Emergency Nurses Day – perspectives of a graduate

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

To continue our celebration of Emergency Nurses Day, which takes place today (October 14), today we hear from Graduate Registered Nurse Natalee Gava from the Townsville Hospital and Health Service. Natalee had only been working for a mere few weeks before the pandemic hit Queensland’s shores, and today is sharing with us what it has been like and what she’s learnt so far.

Natalee entered the nursing workforce after completing her studies as a mature aged student at Townsville’s James Cook University. ‘I already had a lot of compassion and respect for nurses and have always been interested in healthcare and the idea of giving back to the community.’ After her studies, she landed a job at Townsville University Hospital’s (TUH) emergency department (ED), which happened to be her first preference.

‘I knew for a while that I wanted to do emergency nursing. The variety, the broad scope of practice – it’s a great place for a new RN to launch their career and continue to grow clinical reasoning skills,’ Natalee says. ‘You learn something new every day because of the diversity of presentations and you’re also rotating through paediatrics, short stay, fast track and acute - I like the challenge.’

And a few weeks into her new role, Natalee discovered she certainly was going to be challenged – by COVID-19. ‘Lots of changes were happening every day. It was always evolving and on top of being a new grad transitioning into that environment, it added some extra stresses.’

But Natalee is one to look at the bright side of things. ‘When I sit and reflect on it, the ED has done a really good job. I think our whole team pulled together to make it work and implement new procedures and policies and we’ve done a really good job at executing it.’ In addition, Natalee says being a new graduate actually made it easier to adapt. ‘As a new grad in my first year of practice, I didn’t have ingrained habits or ways of doing things, so it was easier to adapt and be flexible to change because I was still learning and didn’t have to change everything I knew.’

If anything, COVID has cemented Natalee’s love of nursing. ‘I love my job. I really enjoy what I do. I guess in a way it made me realise [nursing] can affect you personally with your own life and your own health. But that has increased my respect for the profession; what we give back to the community and what we do to keep people safe.’

‘I think it’s ingrained in us, that’s just what you do – people come in and you have the skills and knowledge to help them and get them better- that’s what we’re here for. The pandemic has helped me grow as a nurse and opened my eyes to how quickly things can change in healthcare, but equally taught me that we’re strong enough to adapt and learn new things and make sure we still give good person-centred care.’

And if that’s not enough to encourage anyone to become a nurse, Natalee has some words of advice:

  1. For people thinking about studying, I would say do it – it can change your life. I grew personally and professionally throughout my university experience and becoming a new grad. I really learnt a lot about myself and met some great people along the way. I have no regrets.
  2. If you’re already studying, just remember that you’re doing the best you can so keep up the good work! Half-way through my course I felt like I had a long way to go but it went really quickly. The transition from studying to getting a job can be daunting but keep the communication lines open, set goals for yourself, and whether you get to them straight away or in a couple of years’ time, you’ll achieve those goals and you’ll be proud of yourself.
  3. Never be afraid to ask questions. That’s how you develop your knowledge and experience and one day you can educate other peers and grads and educate our patients. And asking questions is how we all stay safe.

Thank you, Natalee, and all our emergency nurses for the incredible care you provide in what is often a stressful and busy environment. We see you, and we thank you!

Pictured above: Graduate Registered Nurse, Natalee Gava .

Last updated: 14 October 2020