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Celebrating local nurses

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May 12, 2016

Celebrating nurses – (back l-r) Charles Sturt University Bachelor of Nursing student Kaitlyn Suidgeest, GoTAFE Enrolled Nursing students Melanie Cotsopoulos, Melissa Steadman and Ashleigh Cusack and VET students Steph Humphries and Kathryn Squires, (front) Graduate Registered Nurse Deb Gillespie and Nurse Unit Manager Warrina Judith Towt.

Florence Nightingale’s birthday, May 12, marks International Nurses Day and a chance to recognise the hard work and compassion of these invaluable, front-line health workers.


Shift work, weekends and long hours does little to deter the enthusiasm of local nurses and the Yarrawonga Chronicle had the opportunity to chat with both student nurses and experienced nurses in the lead up to International Nurses Day.


“Every day is something different, you’re never sure what is going to happen,” said GoTafe Enrolled Nursing student nurse Melissa Steadman.


“I really like to help people and I’ve always wanted to do nursing, even before I finished high school.”


Yarrawonga Health currently employs 100 nurses – a dedicated team who care for the community day in day out across local health services.


The service also provides 1000 nursing student placement days each year and hosts four new nursing graduates each year, along with a double degree midwifery graduate in alternate years.


Eleven midwives are employed at Yarrawonga Health, caring for up to 80 low-risk births per year and anywhere up to 60 mothers transferred from Northeast Health.


Midwives enjoyed a special day of recognition with the International Day of the Midwife on May 5.


This year Yarrawonga Health has ventured into new territory, hosting two VET (Vocational Education and Training) year 11 students from Cobram Secondary School - Steph Humphries and Kathryn Squires.


“The program gives us an opportunity to experience a little of what nursing is like in different areas including aged care, acute and maternity,” Kathryn said.


“We spend time in a hospital every second Wednesday for two years over year 11 and 12 which gives us a great head start not only in experience but for future study.”


At the other end of the nursing career spectrum, Graduate Registered Nurse Deb Gillespie and Nurse Unit Manager Warrina Judith Towt have been nursing all their lives, working together in aged care in Yarrawonga for 14 years.


Judith is preparing to retire in the next few months, while Deb continues to work and study. Both reflect on their individual nursing journeys with happiness and pride.


“I think most nurses, regardless of what area they work in, enjoy the challenge of taking each day as it comes,” Judith said.


“It is difficult at times but if you have compassion, it works. It really is very rewarding.”
With 36 years nursing experience in Yarrawonga, Deb is currently enjoying working in acute nursing, but finds her passion lies in aged care.


“Aged care provides a very personal, one-on-one nursing experience that I particularly enjoy,” she said.


“I’ve enjoyed nursing for many years and I’ve still got a few more to come,” she joked, “I wouldn’t change it for anything.”


Both Judith and Deb acknowledged the great opportunities available to young men and women who choose nursing as a modern-day career path.


“When I was at school girls either became a hairdresser, nurse or teacher,” Judith said.
“Now young people have so many career options and the ones that do choose nursing do so because it’s something they’re really committed to.”


“Young nurses also have so much more support now,” Deb added. “Through all the different training programs and ways to enter nursing, along with getting experience in hospitals and mentoring, there is so much help available to them.”


International Nurses Day on Thursday provides an opportunity to thank and celebrate our local nurses and the Yarrawonga Health Board of Management, executive and senior managers take this opportunity to acknowledge the commitment and ongoing dedication of the nursing and midwifery staff at Yarrawonga Health.

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