" Healthcare is vital, interesting and ever-changing. Every day, nursing provides me with the opportunity to directly support the wellbeing of other people. "
MAY 2022: JANE MILLER, PRACTICE DEVELOPMENT NURSE AND PETER MAC @ HOME
“Meet at the Nurses’ Home foyer at 7am in full uniform", read the welcome letter. A shock to the system for someone who loved a sleep in, with the added challenge of negotiating the cross over straps, belt and buttons of the crisply starched apron for the first time. But after a few attempts, my reflection in the mirror resembled a nurse of the 1980s.
My nursing career started in the final year of hospital training at the Alfred Hospital. The course was an abrupt awakening to the realities of healthcare - life and death experiences, the pros and cons of shiftwork, adjusting to the adult working environment, and the realisation that my actions could have a significant impact upon the life of another person.
Along with this was the adventure of making a whole new group of friends.
Friends with whom I shared the highs and lows of everything we experienced throughout three intense years. Turning to peers who understand continues to be a valued and important part of my experience wherever I work in healthcare.
I feel very fortunate to have experienced so much during the three years of hospital training – general medical and surgical, neurology, burns, emergency, ICU, dialysis, paediatrics, theatre, community, maternity, psychiatric and of course, oncology. I continued working in “the Alfred way” for 10 years, joining the highly acute haematology/oncology unit, where I became an Associate Charge Nurse.
After many years at the Alfred, it was time for change. Along with a couple of my friends, I studied midwifery. Midwifery was a new world with a language all of its own. I was now learning about effacement, APGAR scores and colostrum. It contrasted so much with what I had known in oncology, yet similar, affirming life at all ages and stages.
With midwifery completed, I started on a new journey in healthcare – one that continues to change. I supported women and babies in Darwin. I looked after babies with jaundice needing phototherapy, premature babies requiring oxygen therapy and those needing full support for feeding. The babies were beautiful - I helped to reposition a little one who weighed only 650 grams – so delicate, yet so strong making her way in the outside world months too early.
Returning to Melbourne a few years later, my first agency shift was in haematology at Peter Mac in East Melbourne, where I immediately felt comfortable. Before long, a colleague Del’s enthusiasm won me over - I joined the team and once again enjoyed looking after people in the oncology environment.
Peter Mac has provided further opportunities for me to explore the many possibilities available in nursing. Much of this has happened while on the Nurse Bank – I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working alongside some of the most dedicated and friendly nurses I have ever known.
I joined the ICU team, completing a Graduate Certificate in Critical Care Nursing, with an ICU colleague opening my eyes to the possibility of nurse education. A wonderful opportunity presented, and I joined the welcoming Nursing Education team, who I gratefully continue to turn to for support.
My new role involved supporting student nurses during placements navigating their own journeys in the world of healthcare. During my experiences with students, I have recognised that, along with specific learning requirements, there is also plenty of opportunity for creativity and fun.
Viewing nursing education as a partnership between the educators and learners, I’m always ready to learn from students and am delighted to see several past students at Peter Mac. I am now enjoying working alongside some of them as colleagues.
Currently, I am working in two roles - clinical RN at Peter Mac @ Home and Practice Development Nurse for the Nurse Bank. I find my work at Peter Mac @ Home extremely rewarding. Not only does this keep my clinical skills and understanding up to date, it also provides a great sense of satisfaction as I provide nursing care, now in the “Peter Mac way,” to people in the comfort of their own homes.
In the PDN role, I have the pleasure of welcoming the incredibly diverse and interesting nurses who join the bank and pool nursing teams. I enjoy supporting them in skills development and encouragingthem to explore new pathways and expand their experiences in nursing. More recently, I have become involved in welcoming and supporting the Registered Undergraduate Students of Nursing (RUSON). The RUSON experience is of terrific value to Peter Mac, for the patients and the RUSONs themselves as they get a head start with many of the skills they will continue to develop once qualified. I expect that my direction will continue with education, so have returned to study again to complete a Master's in Nursing Education.
Occasionally during my career in nursing, I have considered other work and study possibilities, wondering if the grass is greener in other industries. The last two years, however, have made me feel that nursing is where I want to be. Healthcare is vital, interesting and ever-changing. Every day, nursing provides me with the opportunity to directly support the wellbeing of other people.