Callum is a third-year student completing a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Sydney. Nursing wasn’t always his first choice – a short stint in architecture made him reconsider his career path: “I took a bit of time off to figure out what I wanted. I know I liked to be around people and at the time I was working in a café near RPA so got to meet a lot of people from healthcare,” he says.
Growing up in a rural town, Callum has always been interested in rural health. “My mum was a midwife in Nowra. I’ve always been passionate about rural health. I’m interested in the continuity of care you get in the rural setting.”
This was the catalyst that led him to his two-week placement at Orange Health Service – a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Sydney. “There’s always rural placement opportunities available in Nursing, I also got an Undergraduate Clinical Placement Grant from NSW Health for traveling outside of Sydney for my placement,” Callum says.
In a short term of two-weeks, Callum was exposed to a variety of nursing experiences that allowed him to gain skills in the hospital and community setting.
“My first week was in the Ambulatory Care Unit. It’s kind of like an out-patient clinic within the hospital. People were coming in with wounds that needed to be seen, looked after, cleaned and bandaged with new dressings. I did a lot of infusions – especially pregnant women who needed iron infusions. I also observed venesections (bloodletting) and saw patients who had hemochromatosis – which causes an excess of iron in the blood."
“I was surprised at how much the nurses did. The registered nurses got chances to do things that they just don’t get to do when they’re working in the big city hospitals. For example, cannulations are usually done by junior doctors, but because resourcing is scarcer, nurses do this,” says Callum.
“I didn’t really know what to expect before the placement because the majority of my other placements have been at city hospitals. I thought Orange would be smaller. It’s actaully quite a big hospital because it’s a referral hospital for the region.”
“In the second week I was out doing home visits in the community. Home visits involved a lot of wound care as well. There were antibiotic infusions, medication and insulin management. A lot of patients could take care of themselves but struggled with remembering which medication to take.”
“Orange has a high indigenous population, so it was good to have that focus. Orange Health Service is also big on cultural safety. I was definitely able to do more in a rural placement,” Callum says.
“Because I’m a third year now, I was largely taking my own patient load, but I was supervised by a registered nurse. It was pretty independent with just a bit of supervision to make sure everything I was doing was correct.”
“You really get to know your patients and you have an ongoing relationship with them – this is unique to the rural area. Because of the need out there you tend to have an expanded scope of practice, which is great. You often get to see things and do things you don’t get to do on a city placement.”
Pre-registration courses at Sydney Nursing School require student to complete more than 860 clinical hours during their degree. Clinical placements are available at private and public hospitals, mental health services, community health centres and schools.