The first thing you notice is their sense of comradery.
Sitting around a table in the break room, the nurses talk in shared experiences. They finish each other’s sentences, and nod and laugh together. They’ve just finished a long shift at work, and they could go home. But they seem to genuinely enjoy being together.
You can tell that these are people whose connection to each other extends far beyond the four walls of this workplace.
Each of them mentions a number of times about being able to rely on the others, and how important that is.
And the one word that keeps coming up is “support.” They say things like “I always feel supported by the other nurses” and “it’s important to me that we are all accountable to each other.”
That’s when you realise that they talk like they are members of some kind of club, a tight-knit posse bound together by a way of seeing the world that they all share. They talk about themselves like a football team might, professing their love and passion for the club, always waving the flag, proudly.
These are the nurses of the Rotamah Ward.
The second thing you notice is this feeling of brightness, an optimism with which they describe their work.
They talk about themselves like a football team might, professing their love and passion for the club, always waving the flag, proudly.
These are nurses that, among many other things, provide palliative care to people in the last days of their lives. They balance this extraordinary task with also being responsible for a wide range of paediatric, general medical and surgical care.
Most people might think that a job as emotionally and mentally taxing as this would wear you down.
But these nurses seemed buoyed by it.
“I absolutely love it,” says Leah Matthews. “There’s not a day when I don’t look forward to coming to work. I like that there’s a bit of everything. It’s a country hospital so you have to deal with a wide range of patients. There’s always something different and I love that. It keeps the work interesting.”
To be able to help someone that is going through that, and to be able to help their families, that’s pretty special.
Like the other nurses gathered around the table, Leah says providing palliative care is a unique and deeply rewarding part of her work.
“To be able to help someone that is going through that, and to be able to help their families, that’s pretty special,” she says.
Originally from the Dandenong Ranges, Leah was introduced to East Gippsland when she did her graduate year at BRHS. Eight years later and she is one of the senior nurses on the ward.
And she’s raised a family in this community.
“For us, we love getting out in the four-wheel-drive and going camping, and so this is a great place to raise kids,” she says. “It’s also a very social place.”
For Celia Scott, who did her undergraduate nursing study at Cabrini in Melbourne, that social aspect of being part of a close-knit group of people is a big part of why she’s here.
They have to have a good sense of humour, and be a team player. You have to know that everyone is going to pull their own weight and be accountable.
“I see these girls outside work and we have a laugh – I love ‘em,” she says. “When you like and respect the people you work with it makes the job great. We’ve got a good team environment here.”
When you ask Celia what character traits, specifically, she values in the nurses she works with, she doesn’t hesitate.
“They have to have a good sense of humour, and be a team player” she says. “You have to know that everyone is going to pull their own weight and be accountable, because when you have your bad days, or when things are hard, you need to know you can count on your team.”
Renna Bradshaw is the rookie. She’s only been on the Rotamah Ward for 5 months, but it’s clear that she’s already caught the team spirit bug that the others have.
“It’s bloody fantastic here,” she says, laughing. Like Celia and Leah, she loves the teamwork and collective spirit of the group. And as a Division 2 EN studying to be a Division 1, feeling supported in her training and being encouraged to grow professionally is important to her.
“Everyone is approachable,” she says. “For me, being pretty new and keen to keep learning, they never make me feel silly for asking something, and that’s important. The other nurses always want to help.”
We think the nurses at BRHS are remarkable people.
This Sunday, May 12 is International Nurses Day, and we’re taking the opportunity to applaud all our nurses, here at BRHS and around the world.
You can show your appreciation too.
With this special online form, below, it takes just a few seconds to send a message to nurses everywhere thanking them for the amazing work they do.
Do your good deed for the day and send a message now!
MESSAGES OF APPRECIATION FOR NURSES!