PHC teams

Graphic: PHC teams

A dream becomes reality for Primary Health Care nurse

Date published

11 May 2023

Working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) had always a dream for Jess Abbott.

While she thought it would be working as a Flight Nurse, Jess’s love for helping people has found her well suited to a role as a Primary Health Care (PHC) nurse.

Growing up on a Banana farm in a rural area, Jess has always had a strong connection and passion for the country and helping people.

Her love for helping people meant Jess was perfectly suited to a career in nursing.

PHC team

“I studied my undergraduate degree at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville before completing my studies in Cairns,” Jess said.

“After graduating I headed to the Northern Territory as a nurse at Alice Springs Hospital.

“I aspired to work for the Royal Flying Doctor Service since the beginning of my career, however initially I thought it would be within a flight nurse role.

“As my career progressed more in the direction of Primary Health Care as a child health nurse, I had remembered my family friend had worked as a child health nurse for the RFDS in Cairns.

jess in plane

“After moving back to Far North Queensland and having previously worked within the remote communities in the Northern Territory, I kept an eye out for an opportunity to arise.

“Thankfully a Child Health Nurse position at RFDS came up, I applied, and was successful, and my journey working for the RFDS began.”

Jess joined the RFDS team in 2020 and completed a seven-month contract as a Child Health Nurse for the community of Gununa (Mornington Island).

“I returned in May 2022 in a part time position as a Primary Health Care Nurse.” Jess said.

“I was then fortunate to be successful in obtaining the Nursing Education Officer role for our Primary Health Care team.

“I currently work both as a nursing educator and primary health care nurse which includes attending clinics both around Cairns and Mt Isa."

Jess said primary health care is vital for communities in rural and remote locations.

“PHC nurses play a vital role in the delivery of Primary Health Care services to rural and remote Queensland communities and are invaluable as people, families and children would otherwise not have access to such services,” she said.

“Our nurses provide a board range of primary healthcare services including health promotion, illness prevention, antenatal and postnatal care, child health, immunisations, women’s and men’s health and chronic disease management.”

jess plane

Primary Health Care clinics are delivered by teams regularly across Queensland.

“Clinic days start with an early rise, aiming to be at our Cairns base by 6:30 am to pack what we need for the day and to complete our daily checks,” Jess said.

“Our aim is for wings to be in the air around 7:30 am and depending on what clinic and how far we have to fly, generally speaking we are on the ground and ready to roll by 9 am.

“We see clients right through the day, not only the ones who book in but also try our best to accommodate the needs of the community on the day.

“We then head back to the airstrip - thanks to the volunteer community drivers who drive us to and from the clinic, with an aim to be landing back in Cairns by 5:30 pm.”

Having taken on the role of Nurse Education Officer, Jess’s day looks slightly different now with a focus on supporting the PHC nurses in their roles.

“My day-to-day role includes organising educational workshops, facilitating and delivering mandatory training, attending meetings ranging from operational to service delivery to monthly PHC meetings and inter-agency,” she said.

“A large part of my role is to support our PHC Nurses to complete their annual mandatory training requirements and to discuss and identify their individual educational needs or desires.”

Jess encouraged nurses who are interested in working for the RFDS to reflect on what direction of nursing they would like to take.

“Be sure to consider undertaking post-graduate studies to support the direction you would like to take and optimise opportunities that will consolidate your nursing studies and skills,” she said.

“Take each nursing job as an opportunity to learn, grow and pass on knowledge which will ultimately benefit the people you are delivering a service to or caring for.”

You can find out more about the RFDS (Queensland Section) PHC services here.