The Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) works to increase the pool of urban-based Health Professionals (HPs) available for work in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Several dedicated individuals recruit, orientate and deploy HPs to these communities, including Clinical Coordinator Jennine Lavender.
"My remote health journey actually started on Christmas Island," says Jennine.
After 27 years of working in various roles with her local hospital, Jennine found herself looking for a new challenge.
"I had gotten to the position of Nursing Unit Manager and did some relief work as the Director of Nursing but knew I needed a change. I needed to do something that connected me back to clinical nursing. I needed a new challenge."
For Jennine, the perfect new challenge was remote nursing placements. After finishing her first-ever remote placement on Christmas Island, Jennine attended a Maternity Emergency Care (MEC) course to develop her remote and isolated care skills.
"That's when I learnt about RAHC," she says. "I joined in 2012 as a Remote Area Nurse (RAN) and completed one or two placements per year whilst still working at my local hospital."
Eventually, Jennine also became a Remote Educator (RE), travelling to community with New-to-Remote (NTR) HPs to help them transition to the remote clinical environment.
"I went on my first RAHC placement with an RE, so I know how valuable the RE programme is for new HPs," says Jennine.
"As an RE, you're not telling RANs how to be a nurse but just guiding them into a new nursing style. They get to use all their previous knowledge and build on it. You may come across challenging situations that you might not normally deal with, so having someone with a little extra experience can help whilst you become familiar in the new environment."
Then, in 2020, Jennine joined the RAHC team as a full-time Clinical Coordinator. She now facilitates the transition of new Remote Area Nurses (RANs) into remote health, including through clinical orientation, the RAHC eLearning platform, professional development and the Remote Educator programme.
Clinical orientation is another great aspect of support provided to HPs.
"The day-long course is more than talking about clinical work. A lot of it is about getting to know each other. We want them to feel comfortable in the team and know they can always call myself or Emma, the Clinical Manager if they need support. We're available 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
"We also discuss the CARPA Manuals, Code of Conduct and emphasise that HPs are a visitor to community. It's all about awareness – of your surroundings and yourself."
For Jennine and HPs alike, remote placements are a learning opportunity like no other.
"There is a level of autonomy which you don't get in a hospital, so you really have to think things through and use the CARPA manuals and your experience thoughtfully. It can be challenging but it's very empowering."
"It's an opportunity to meet people from all different cultures and build trust and relationships quickly to help others."
"There's so much to learn and at the same time, I'm learning a lot about myself."
If you're interested in becoming credentialed with RAHC, visit https://bit.ly/3IVAsyE.
Please note - applying with RAHC does not mean you will be credentialed or offered placements. Your application allows RAHC to credential you, so when successful, we can contact health services and identify appropriate placements that suit your skills, experience and availability.