Well time has gone reasonably quickly, 2 months down and 1 to go. I have fallen into a comfortable routine with my job, eking out the small amount of work needed to be done so that it lasts the week. Since Jo has been in Ali Curung at least I have been able to drive down there on Friday after work then back to Tennant Creek on Sunday afternoon. Jo only has 1 week to go before flying back home for a few days then heading to Pepperminati in the Top-End to start our next contract then I will join her after finishing here.
Life is very comfortable here but not at all challenging and certainly no clinical work. I was visiting the Elliott Clinic the other day on one of my fortnightly visits to engage with the 1 client I have there. As I walked into the waiting area there were a few people waiting to be seen and I felt like I was back home, where-ever that might be!!!
For anyone reading this without an idea what a Remote Area Nurse actually does I will give a quick synopsis. Remote Indigenous communities of anything from a few hundred to a few thousand people will have their own Health Clinic. Depending on the community size it may have anything from 2 nurses with a visiting Doctor maybe once a month up to 7-8 nurses and a permanent Doctor.
Even those with a permanent Dr it is usual for the Dr not to be called out afterhours even for emergencies unless it really is life or death. RAN's will see anything that comes in the door, from doing annual health checks to heart-attacks and everything in between. Suicides by hanging, assaults, rapes, births....anything!!! RAN's complete higher training in order to deal with these types of presentations.
We work from a manual called the CARPA which enables us to dispense medications, antibiotics and stronger pain relief as long as we follow the criteria set out in CARPA. If no Dr is available to consult with we are able to contact an oncall Dr to consult with over the phone. We also use a computer platform that the Dr can see our notes as well as the results of any investigations we have conducted in the clinic in order to come up with a diagnosis.
If all else fails and despite our treatment plan things go South we will call in the retrieval service be it the Royal Flying Doctor Service or Careflight in the Top End to evacuate the person. Depending on the condition of the client this may take anything from 2 hours to 24 hours during which we will have to manage the client and keep the Dr informed of any changes in condition.
It is a rewarding job with lots of challenges and discomforts. It can be infuriating and at times can get the adrenalin pumping. Certain additions to policies have made it safer but still nurses get assaulted and threatened on a regular basis too often. Had I my time over again I would have "gone remote" in my twenties before having children. Earned a bucket load of money, and there is a bucket to earn, paid cash for a house then had the luxury of deciding where and how much I worked from then on.
But time is something we can't have over again unfortunately.