My name is Ali Rodda and I live in Norwood, South Australia. I am a Registered Nurse with three certificates in General, Intensive and Coronary Care and Midwifery.
I trained at the Royal Adelaide Hospital so many years ago I want to forget, but it was a wonderful time of my life as a youngster just starting out in the big wide world of medicine. After graduating I spent most of my graduate year in the Emergency Department (ED) where I found that I had a real leaning towards the acute and exciting part of nursing.
This, in turn, led me to do the Intensive and Coronary Care Course at the RAH and while undertaking these studies I realised that there was so much more to nursing and so much more to learn about medicine and I found it all completely fascinating.
While I absolutely loved the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and looking after critically ill patients the Operating Room also fascinated me and so I transferred to Perioperative Nursing which is where I remained for most of my career.
It wasn’t until my sister died 9 years ago that I concluded that life was too short and it was time for me to live a bigger life. So I decided to use my nursing skills to travel and see more of this beautiful country of ours and one morning I simply woke up and thought I would go to Thursday Island. I didn’t know anything about the island or what working there might entail, but I eventually found an agency who recruited for the island and they found me a job in the ED.
On one hand I was thrilled to be heading off to an indigenous community, and to an island at that, but on the other hand I was absolutely terrified of what to expect. I can remember arriving on the wharf on Horn Island looking over towards Thursday Island and to one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen, but thinking ‘where the bloody hell am I, and what the bloody hell was I thinking!!!”.
And so began my journey into remote area nursing and a love affair with the Torres Strait Islands. At first I was apprehensive about working in the ED, having been out of it for many years. But it didn’t take long to get into the swing of things and I began to really enjoy the work, the Torres Strait Islanders and, of course, the fantastic island life.
Once the remote area nursing door opened for me I was keen to go wherever there seemed to be interesting work. This led me to BoiguI island in the Torres Strait near PNG, to Christmas Island where I worked with multicultural and refugee communities, to the indigenous community of Palm Island, outback Queensland and rural hospitals in New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia and here at home in South Australia.
All of the places I have worked have unique communities ranging from indigenous, to multicultural, refugee and rural. The experience I have gained has been enormous and having to work autonomously a lot of the time I found that I became highly adaptable and incredibly resilient.
One moment I would be applying a bandaid to a grazed knee and the next would be turning the ED into a mini ICU and working through the night to keep a patient alive while waiting for a retrieval team. I love the fact that, with this kind of work, I never know what is going to come through the door to challenge me.
I have also met some fantastic people along the way and formed lifelong friendships with many of them. One of them in particular opened up a whole new adventure world to me and with her help we camped our way across the top, the bottom and down the centre of Australia, visiting amazing places like the Kimberly, the Nullabor, the Savannah Way and Uluru and the Olgas – places I would never have gone in a million years if I hadn’t taken that first contract in Thursday Island. It opened up a wonderful world of adventure and excitement and the best part is that I am certainly not done with it all yet and am always looking out for the next big adventure.
How I became a NAHRLS Locum
I didn’t actually hear about NAHRLS – I had applied to Aspen Medical in the hope of going to the Solomon Islands or East Timor and I guess my CV was noticed when NAHRLS was being formed. I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in doing some remote work with the company. That was three years ago and the rest is history.
I wasn’t sure at first what I was looking for from the NAHRLS program – I guess more of what I had been doing with the other agencies I had worked with in the past. I have found that I have still been able to keep doing interesting work in great locations.
I love working with NAHRLS because there is such a variety of contracts. I also like the fact that they are generally only two weeks long but there is also the possibility of extending for longer if needed.
I like the flexibility I have working with NAHRLS and it doesn’t take me away from my family for too long.
Through NAHRLS I have been fortunate enough to go to:
- Yorketown SA
- Peterborough SA
- Snowtown SA
- Port Pirie SA
- Balaklava SA
- Corowa NSW
- Moruya NSW
- Bega NSW
- Goulburn NSW
- Barham NSW
I have even been back for a return visit to some of these hospitals and all of them have been terrific experiences. I would have no hesitation in going back to any of them at any time in the future.
I have found all the experiences that I have had with NAHRLS really great. One of the things I love the most is flying into the various locations interstate and then being able to drive to the hospital. I have loved getting on a plane since I was a little girl but I equally love long drives through the countryside. So I always felt a bit spoiled particularly with contracts like Bega and Moruya where I flew into Canberra Airport and drove through the mountains and out to the coastal regions through the most beautiful countryside imaginable.
In terms of rewarding experiences, there are way too many to mention! But with each contract I have found that I have made at least one friend who I keep in touch with and there always seems to be that one patient who gets to me and tugs at my heart strings and they are the ones I never forget. In all of my NAHRLS contracts I have found the staff extremely helpful and friendly and had no trouble fitting in for the short time I am there.
I hope to be with NAHRLS for a long time to come – there is a lot more of this country for me to see and I certainly hope I can do it with NAHRLS.