Last you heard, I was driving into Norseman, heading towards my new home and next job for the next few months.
My driver was the very friendly Joe. He was the hospital gardener/maintenance man/plumber/security guard/ambulance driver/ and taxi driver for any new nurses arriving to work. As I would later discover, having a multi-tasking job role is considered to the norm in such a small rural town. But what amazed me about Joe’s many capabilities was the fact that Joe is aged in his 70s!
We arrived in Norseman later that afternoon out in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by miles and miles of red sandy bush, lakes so dry that they had no water in them – only salt, and some rather dusty looking mines, Norseman is a tiny community of maybe 800 people.
I quickly settled into my new accommodation. A shared house right next to the hospital which I pay minimal costs to stay in during my contract. The other flatmates are also nurses at the hospital and seem to be really lovely nice guys. One is kiwi and from Auckland, while the other guy is older, Dutch, and has worked kinda everywhere.
Then I had my first shift. And it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. The hospital staff are all so friendly and helpful. As a basic description of my job, I am essentially the only Registered Nurse on, working along with an aide. The aide is also the cook and cleaner. Depending on the day of the week, there will be a receptionist and the charge nurse working too. The hospital is tiny and has a grand total of 8 beds. Four of those beds are permanently occupied by elderly rest home residents, and the other four beds are for any acute inpatients. The inpatients can be any kind of patient ranging from medical to oncology to maternity to a detoxing alcoholic…. etc etc. Then on top of that is a tiny wee 2 bed emergency department. Anyone that presents to the A and E, I also triage, assess and treat. And ‘assess’ doesn’t mean the basic ABC nursing assessment I used to do back home. It means a proper thorough doctor-level assessment. And then if you think you need to, you can give the on-call doctor a wee call. The doctor is often not in town and a couple of hours drive away so you do a consult over the phone, and get further verbal orders for treatment. You also decide over the phone whether the patient can be discharged home or needs to be flown out to a bigger hospital. And then arrange for that to happen.
It can be a very busy job some days. And other days it is very quiet. It all depends on what walks through the ED door.
But I am loving it! What an amazing experience rural nursing is. In the 6 shifts I’ve worked so far my assessment skills and critical thinking has exploded to new levels. My confidence in myself and my abilities has grown by leaps and bounds. And this is only the beginning..