Originally from Sydney, Charleville Flight Nurse and Nursing Education Officer (Aeromedical) Emma Wex had always dreamed of working for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
To make her dream a reality, she completed a Bachelor of Nursing Science plus a transition program in emergency care at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane and applied for a Flight Nurse role with the RFDS. Narrowly missing out the first time, Emma went back to university to gain her Masters in Midwifery and applied with us again. This time, of course, she was successful!
Having spent around five years in emergency and ICU departments Emma has experienced all manner of medical situations. Now working for the RFDS in primary health care, she is getting used to providing holistic care rather than only addressing emergencies. “There are many health providers throughout Australia,” says Emma “but the RFDS is proudly dedicated to supporting rural and remote Australians, so that makes this service unique.”
Emma and her husband Michael love the beach, so moving to Charleville was a big sea change. With the support of staff at the RFDS Charleville Base Emma threw herself into the role of Flight Nurse and Michael started a personal training business that is fast becoming a successful venture.
When commenting on some of the challenges she faces in her role, Emma says mostly it’s missing the chance to work with other nurses. “This is such an independent and autonomous job. You don’t get the opportunity to bounce ideas off colleagues or seek guidance. At times, with challenging situations or critically unwell patients, I’d love just two minutes to step way, refresh my mind and return, but you can’t. The phone becomes your friend instead.”
The most rewarding part of her day is meeting new people in the Charleville community and helping to provide improved access to health care for rural and remote Australians. “Without the RFDS, rural and remote Queenslanders would have poorer health outcomes when compared to their city counterparts. It feels good that in some very small way I can help people in need.”
Other great aspects to Emma’s role include being involved with the education of new flight nurses and staying up to date with nursing and midwifery skills. “One challenge we face is maintaining advanced skills across such a broad range of clinical presentations. One day you may be tasked to a woman in pre-term labour, the next day you could be attending a car roll over and the following day you could be delivering care to a patient experiencing a seizure. Each situation requires a specialised set of skills. The RFDS knows this and supports all clinicians with professional development.”
When not wearing her flight nurse badge, Emma is a budding photographer and has even entered some of her pictures in the 2017 and 2018 Charleville Show photography competitions. A promising talent, she won her category in 2017.
Emma’s advice to those aspiring to become RFDS Flight Nurses is to give it a go! “Living and working remotely has been one of the best decisions that I have ever made,” she said. “I moved to Charleville RFDS from Brisbane and have not looked back since.”
RFDS Flight Nurses are some the most qualified in Australia, having dual qualifications in Nursing and Midwifery, as well as more than 3 years critical care experience. 75% of our 11,000 aeromedical retrievals each year are Flight Nurse only journeys, where they must be able to handle every eventuality that may occur at 15,000 ft.
To maintain their skills and deliver exceptional care to our patients, Flight Nurses require on-going training that is funded with help from supporters like you.
Help us help support more RFDS Flight Nurses like Emma by donating today