31 year-old Kristy Robinson from Nowra has been a nurse for five years. During the course of her three-month RAHC placements in Ampilatwatja and Elcho Island, she assisted with the delivery of three babies, provided primary healthcare support to children, educated communities about women’s health, men’s health and diabetes and conducted school screening programs.
“The community becomes my family when I am working in the Territory,” Kristy said. “It becomes hard to leave when you have spent several months living and working so closely with people, but you can always go back.”
Kristy has been touched and rewarded by the experience and has decided to return to Elcho Island, by invitation from the permanent health workers in the community, for an additional four weeks in May.
“I find the work far more rewarding than my day to day job in Nowra,” Kristy explains. “People in the communities where I have been working genuinely need our help and care, and we can make a real difference to the immediate health challenges facing them.
“Watching the kids put on weight and look visibly healthier is one of the biggest rewards for me. When you can see the changes happening before your eyes it really brings home the difference you can make. It’s a small difference in the grand scheme of things but a big difference to the individuals you are helping.”
GPs and nurses who have completed RAHC placements in the Northern Territory explain that their role is as much about health education as it is about delivering immediate healthcare.
“I think the short-term placements can deliver long-term value to the communities who need it most,” Kristy said. “The drive to place more health professionals on the ground is working and the short-term nature of the work means that it is much easier for permanent workers to get involved.”
Kristy completed her first remote healthcare placement three years ago and knew what to expect when working in the Northern Territory.
“It’s demanding work so you must have an interest in wanting to help people, but the rewards are both personal and professional,” she said. “The difference you can make to communities makes it so worthwhile.
“The team at RAHC are hands on and stay in contact with you in the run up to and throughout the placement to ensure you are comfortable with the role. I felt that I was in very good hands.
“Learn as much as you can beforehand and take part in a cultural awareness program, like the ones at RAHC, to understand the differences: how to dress, how behave and speak with people. Then get in there and do it – don’t be worried about whether you know enough or question if you can really help. You are fully supported along every step of the way. I’ll be coming back for a long time to come.”
Would you like to share your RAHC experience with other Health Professionals? We are always looking for RAHC Health Professionals to tell us about their experience, by preparing a RAHC story. If you are willing to share your story, please contact your Placement Consultant or email us.