Cathy Davey is a locum nurse and has been registered with the NAHRLS programme since June 2011. She has lived in Canberra since 1989 and has worked as a practice nurse at a GP practice for 12 years administering immunisations, wound care and health checks.
Since early 2012, Cathy has worked as a Generalist Nurse for NSW Health providing home visits for wound care, chemo support and client monitoring, administering childhood immunisation, and involvement in foot clinics and cardiac rehab.
Cathy’s background includes working in the operating theatre for several hospitals since 1981 working for the late Dr Victor Change at St. Vincent’s Private Hospital in the cardiac theatre. Cathy was also in the Royal Australian Navy for 5 years in Sydney.
The NAHRLS programme appealed to Cathy because the application process was easy, the staff approachable, and the short term placements meant she could still maintain a fulltime job.
“The application was really just about having all your certificates certified, references and the police check completed. This is now standard for most job applications.
I have always found the NAHRLS staff approachable and have never been left stranded at any remote location with NAHRLS.
NAHRLS placements can be anywhere in Australia, opening up opportunities where I had never thought I would work.
I was after a challenge, to be slightly out of my comfort zone, to learn new things and see new places, and to break the routine of my regular job.
It is rewarding [to do locum work] so my more remote colleagues can have the advantages city nurses take for granted and gain their on-going education and have a break from their often isolated and remote workplaces.
I have met some really interesting people, both staff and locals, in my placements.
I feel it is a privilege to get paid to work in some of Australia’s most beautiful locations. I get up and go for walks before work, virtually unknown for me as I am not a morning person! It really is a beautiful time of the day.
I had a placement at the Kununurra Medical Centre for a week, a small GP practice mainly doing medicals for the mines, immunisation and wound care.
Both nurses went to a conference while I held the fort. I had a handover for half a day with the practice nurses before they flew out to Townsville for their course.
And yes the place was still there when they got back!
Kununurra is an interesting town, for me it has a fantastic feel. I was there again for a day this August. My partner and I were on a 12 day Kimberley camping tour. That is how much I love the area.
My second NAHRLS placement was at Ayr Hospital in June 2012 for two weeks where I replaced the Child and Family Nurse. Once again, the Nurse I replace was away on a course; unfortunately I didn’t get to meet her. I prefer to meet the staff member I replace but that is not always possible.
The staff during placements are really happy to have an extra pair of hands. The local staff go out of their way to make me feel welcome. They always met me on time at the bus or airport and take me for a tour around the town to get my bearings. Some would say that is a feat in itself but left to myself I have always found my way back to the accommodation!
In Kununurra, one of the nurses lent us a car and a boat!
The key experience and reward for me is to do the best I can in replacing the regular staff and hopefully they will use NAHRLS staff again in the future.
But a girl has to have some R&R too!
In Kununurra, I was sitting outside on the veranda of the cabin overlooking Lake Kununurra eating my breakfast and a freshwater crocodile swam by the cabin. On a night walk around the campsite we came across more crocodiles, turtles and archer fish, in an arm of the lake near the camping ground office.
I was in Kununurra for a weekend and my partner was there too so we booked a fishing trip on the magnificent Ord River and yes those saltwater crocodiles are huge. I caught my first barramundi and released it. I’ll catch it again another visit.
The sunset cruise with Triplej Tours on Lake Argyle was probably the highlight of my time in Kununurra. I went swimming with 25 thousand freshwater crocodiles in Australia’s largest water storage reservoir, sipping champagne. So cool!
Ayr is in the Burdekin District and is the sugar cane capital of Australia. It was spectacular to watch a cane field on the edge of town being burnt before harvest. The sky was full of smoke; the sunset was spectacular and the ash falling as ‘burdekin snow’.”
Cathy was amazed at the rewards and incentives offered through the NAHRLS programme particularly the travel and accommodation, meal allowances and incentive allowances.
“Flights, accommodation and transport are arranged and paid for either before placement or after placement.
In Kununurra, the accommodation was a lovely onsite cabin looking over Lake Kununurra.
In Ayr, the hospital had modern 2 bedroom apartments opposite the hospital and it was a short walk to the shops.
There is a generous allowance for food. Some places have more expensive food than a city person would be used to but the allowance is still adequate. It is always fun doing the shopping in another place and mingling with the locals. Be aware though that in some places the shops are not open as long or as often as the bigger locations, so plan a shop visit when you arrive or you may go hungry!”