A seed planted during Jessie’s final year at university has finally sprouted 4 years later, resulting in a big decision to move from Brisbane to Mount Isa.
That small seed was a passion for rural and remote nursing, which Jessie first sowed while on placement in Broken Hill and Roma. “I absolutely enjoyed it, so I think it all started from there,” she said.
Jessie is one of 17 registered nurses participating in the Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer’s (OCNMO) Rural Generalist Registered Nurse Program (RGRNP). The program is a Queensland-first, attracting nurses to grow their knowledge and skills to transition to rural and remote practice. Many nurses – like Jessie – have moved away from metro areas to try something different. Jessie’s previous role was in infectious diseases at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) which also included working in the hotel quarantine program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I really do love the PA Hospital – it is such a great teaching hospital. But I wanted to go out further and make a difference to a community in need,” Jessie said.
Jessie, Registered Nurse
Earlier this year she was able to get a taste for rural and remote nursing during a 7-week contract on Mornington Island. “I really loved it there, but it made me realise the magnitude of the role of being a remote nurse. I thought I was a very well-rounded nurse, but quickly I realised I needed to undergo more training, so I felt safer and more confident in my role. I spoke to my Director of Nursing, and she said, ‘This program [the RGRNP] is literally just starting tomorrow – would you think about joining?’ And of course, I did,” Jessie said.
Jessie’s partner and three near-adult children remain in Brisbane while she pursues her career dreams. “Being away from them is the hardest thing, but I plan my leave in advance so I can come home every three months or so for a week. I love drawing and writing letters, so I send them drawings of things I have seen up here, which they love.”
Under the Rural Generalist Registered Nurse Program, each nurse’s employment and rotations are different, based on their skillset and the community’s needs. Jessie will be in Mount Isa until the end of March 2023 before heading to Karumba, Doomadgee, and Cloncurry.
“I’m excited and scared, but that’s part of the challenge and the adventure,” Jessie said.
And for other registered nurses who decide to spread their wings and join the program, Jessie shared some advice on what to do when you move into a new town.
“Get out into the community, get to know them so that when they do come in [to hospital], they know you and trust you. And sightseeing – when you get time, go for a walk, or grab a car with some colleagues, and see the sights” she said.
“It’s also important to preserve your mental health and look after yourself because you won’t have the normal things you rely on like family, friends, or concerts. Think about how you will preserve your joy - or find new joy.”
“If it is something you truly feel passionate about and something you really want to do, you just have to go for it. Use this opportunity, learn all you can and enjoy it.”
“I feel so lucky to be starting off in Mt Isa.”
The Rural Generalist Registered Nurse Program is just one of Queensland Health’s strategies to address the challenges of recruitment and retention in rural and remote communities. For more rural and remote inspiration, read Clinton’s story and hear from these nurses from the Darling Downs.
Anyone interested in the Rural Generalist Registered Nurse Program who would like to learn more can email OCNMO_ProfessionalCapability@health.qld.gov.au.