The RFDS in SA/NT
Meet the team: Flight Nurse
Tell us about yourself
My background is in intensive care nursing, however I have worked in a variety of other settings. I spent 14 years in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), working all over the world, including a stint in Afghanistan. I’m still part of the RAAF working as a Specialist Reserve. Before I joined the Flying Doctor I worked as a Midwife and Intensive Care Nurse in Newcastle, NSW. In 2017 I was offered a job as a Flight Nurse with the RFDS and so my wife and I made the decision to move to Adelaide with our two children – a great opportunity for all of our family. Outside of work I enjoy music. I play the guitar and trumpet, and have played in many bands over the years. Living close to the beach I enjoy a swim with the kids during the summer months.
What does a typical day for a RFDS Flight Nurse look like?
Whilst no two days are the same, each shift sees us flying to diverse locations across South Australia and the Northern Territory to retrieve critically-ill or injured people from remote locations, or to transfer patients between regional and metropolitan hospitals for urgent care. We also regularly transfer patients to interstate hospitals for life-saving surgery, such as organ transplants or heart surgery on newborn babies.
What appealed to you about the role?
The enormous variety of work provides a fantastic opportunity to use all of my nursing and midwifery skills. The organisation has a well-deserved reputation for providing best practice health care – I feel very proud to be part of it. Every day I am reminded how precious and fragile life can be.
What do you enjoy the most?
I work closely with a wonderful team of nurses, pilots, doctors and administration staff. Whilst people living in remote areas can create disadvantage due to tyranny of distance, our entire team is dedicated to providing the finest health care. I also relish the opportunity to work independently. I really enjoy the total responsibility of caring for a patient as a sole practitioner, managing a whole range of clinical situations in an isolated environment. Should I ever need support whilst providing care in the air I can contact specialists for advice via telephone or aircraft radio network. Finally, I'm lucky to be able to see some beautiful areas of outback Australia – sometimes even encountering some unique wildlife in its local habitat!
Do you have any advice for aspiring Flight Nurses?
RFDS Flight Nurses need qualifications and experience in both critical care and obstetrics – it’s not something you’ll do as a new graduate. You also need to be a flexible thinker and confident in making decisions. Flight Nursing is a wonderful career – I highly recommend it.