65 year-old Maggie McKenna has worked as a Registered Nurse for the past 30 years at The Canberra Hospital. In that time she worked for 15 years as a paediatric nurse, took a four year break to look after her own children, and then found her passion providing renal care.

For 30 years Maggie said she always glanced at the pages in medical journals and magazines about other places where she could nurse, but one day she noticed an advertisement for RAHC in the Australian Nursing Journal and decided to act.

“I spent 11 years in renal care in Canberra, and when I left The Canberra Hospital in December I knew it was my time to finally practice remote nursing.

“It was just a matter of the timing being right and me actually making a phone call.

“My dad was a teacher and as a child we moved around outback South Australia.  So I have always had a fondness for remote areas, and more importantly for Indigenous people.”

While Maggie wasn’t sure initially if she had the skill set to complete the work in Tennant Creek, she has since found she is suited to her role and believes the support available to remote area nurses during their placement is in invaluable.

“Tennant Creek has been an amazing place to come to work in because there’s a good support team here. Even though it’s a busy clinic there’s always somebody available to ask for help.”

“I feel really proud of myself and the work that I’m carrying out here.”

Maggie says a typical day at the Anyinginyi Clinic in Tennant Creek is hard to describe.

“It’s just so completely different to being in a Canberra hospital.

“We start work at 8 o’clock in the morning and there’s always people lined up for the clinic, with a line for the men and a line for the women.

“In an ordinary shift you can see babies and children right through to 80 or 90 year olds and people coming in for ordinary GP-type consultations, bad backs, sore throats, grazes and sometimes for more serious issues.

During her time at Canberra Hospital, one of the things Maggie loved about her job was carrying out overall health assessments.

“The thing that strikes me about the working remote is that the nursing is so thorough. Every single person you see, you do a full set of observations on.

“My impression of remote nursing is that the health professionals are just outstanding. They will not let anyone slip through the system. I’ve been hugely impressed by that.

 “The other thing is that all your allied services are just a phone call away. Every day I could phone the nutritionist, the diabetes educator, the podiatrist and the dentist.”

In between her RAHC placements Maggie works casually at a dialysis centre in Canberra, but she knows she has more to do as a remote area nurse.

“It’s so stimulating being a nurse in a remote setting. I know that next time I go remote, if I’m lucky enough to do another placement, my skills will continue to improve because there is so much to learn.

“It would probably take ten years to get your head around everything because every day is just full of huge surprises. But for me, I just love being challenged and I’m really able to do that here.”

Would you like to share your RAHC experience with other Health Professionals? We are always looking for RAHC Health Professionals to tell us about their experience, by preparing a RAHC story. If you are willing to share your story, please contact your Placement Consultant or email us.

Article was originally  published 5/11/12 in NCAH magazine http://www.ncah.com.au/ncahmagazine/