Sharon Gibbard is a Melbourne-based nurse who has completed nine placements with the Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC), in five Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.

After finding out about RAHC from a friend who encouraged her to embark on a placement, Sharon hasn’t looked back. She also says she has no intention to stop working remote.

“I had always wanted to nurse in an Indigenous community and RAHC has provided me the opportunity to see if I was cut out for it and how I would cope away from home,” Sharon said.

“I have now worked with so many nurses who love this work.  They take leave without pay to do repeat placements and some, like me, have never really returned to urban work. I now do most of my work in remote areas.”

Despite having three years’ experience working in remote communities under her belt, Sharon still says it feels brand new, with health professionals working in remote locations seeing something different in their practice every day.

“There are so many stories and memorable moments in remote area work and after three years I still consider myself a beginner,” Sharon said.

“Nurses who have worked in remote locations for longer periods have such interesting stories.  The array of skills and experience we gain while working in remote communities greatly benefits the work we can do back in our regular jobs.

“A nurse in a remote clinic will leave his or her placement with advanced knowledge in assessment and individual practice.

“They will also have experienced working in an environment where they don’t belong to the dominant culture.”

While on placement, Sharon says has worked in diverse teams that she thoroughly enjoyed working with. Despite coming from different medical backgrounds, Sharon and her colleagues all share a love for the type of work, which continues to motivate her.

“I believe that if in the course of delivering primary health care you are able to provide a service which improves a child’s health outcome, or you help to keep a community elder well enough to remain in their community, then you are making a difference,” said Sharon.

The opportunity to work as part of a team and contribute to helping to close the gap for Indigenous Australians is possible with the help of RAHC. 

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.