Migrating into Midwifery and Nursing: WHO 2020 Year of the Nurse and the Midwife
Guest post by Tori.
Tori loves living in Australia, but travelling around the world taking in all the different cultures, scenery and food gives her life. She has a Chinese, Samoan and English heritage, that has resulted in crazy curls. She enjoys anything outdoors, rainy days, playing any sport and learning new crafts.
Before becoming a senior in high school, we had a careers day which encouraged us to look into various careers for after high school. In this, we were given an aptitude test that searches for your strengths, what you enjoy, what you are good at. Maths wasn’t a strong subject for my family and as I was good at sports, it was presumed that I wasn’t mathematically minded. Surprising to everyone I was great at maths and science.
I love helping people. I also enjoyed little babies. The things that combined helping, babies and maths were nursing and midwifery. Thankfully my perspective rank and grades were setting me up for admission into the university I wanted. I thought about what my life would look like as a nurse and midwife and doing that forever would look like. I thought it would be amazing.
How right I was.
I could not have chosen a career better suited to my personality. If you work a job you love it’s like never working a day in your life. I just didn’t get to that path the way I had envisioned. But Heavenly Father knows exactly the way we need to get there.
The school careers counsellor informed me of a program that I could start while in high school. It would be tertiary level education while still managing secondary school load. It would require me to go to a university campus one day a week. But it guaranteed a spot and direct entry into the registered nursing program once I finished the diploma course. After discussion with my parents, I decided to do it.
But not everything was given. The course opened earlier than I expected– and it was filled by the time I was originally told that enrollments would open. I was crushed. I didn’t know what to do.
But My father did. Or maybe he didn’t. But he wasn’t going to stand by and watch me miss out. He wrote to the minister of health and the minister for education. All of a sudden, the limited 40-place course had room for one more. Me!
It was important to me to have parents who supported my dream. Without them, I don’t think I would be a nurse or a midwife. Of the class of 41 that we started, only 6 finished the course. I was one. It was not easy.
My senior school years were busy. One day each week, I would go to tafe (college), then the other 4 days I spent at my high school. I managed a solid GPA, plus, I was on the netball, volleyball and swim teams for school. On the side, I coached the under-15s netball with another student, I volunteered one day of the week as a tutor and had a part time job at the movies.
It was a busy time, but I was lucky. I had a lesson when I was in senior primary that taught me to put the important and vital things first in my life, then the other things would settle into the cracks of time you had left. I found this to be true, and through this, I learned the importance of time management and work life balance.
The vital things for me were Heavenly Father, Family, School, my commitments. So, I made sure I went to early morning seminary every day. This was good because I had something every night of the week. Monday was family home evening. Tuesday was coaching, Wednesday was mutual, Thursday was work, Friday was practice for my commitments to the various teams. While my family supported my dreams, it was not an excuse to not be present in the family. Family time was expected every night and chores were expected to be completed by the time my parents returned home from work. This meant over my senior year, I watched maybe an hour of TV a week. My time was tightly balanced. My time with friends was spent at the extracurricular activities, seminary and mutual.
Although sometimes it feels like you are on the right path, it does not mean that path will be easy. I found this out when my family needed to move out of state in my final year of high school. If I left with my family all of my hard work would go down the drain. My parents and I decided that it would be best that I stayed in Brisbane with my grandparents to finish high school, then move down to Sydney with them. This would mean that I would lose my spot I was guaranteed at university. But I would be able to be with my family.
So I had a choice: open-door into university, or the more challenging route, but being with my family? I chose family. I had missed them a lot in the months I had spent without them. I was always so close with my family. While a career is important, my faith and family will always be a higher priority. Being truly rich in this life is not money related to me. It is how much you love and are loved.
When I moved interstate, I did not get into nursing at university. I was, however, given a job in a nursing home. I managed to gain love for these people and their stories. As the residents left this life, I would pop into a room and say a little prayer to Heavenly Father. It really brought me closer to Him.
It was also where I heard from other staff members about an opportunity. I could finish my diploma that I had started at high school. I was also informed that it was highly unlikely to get into the course close to home as if was a scholarship position and I would be better off just applying an hour away and paying. But with Heavenly father everything was possible. My family was not rich and did not have the money to pay for the course. I needed the scholarship. I needed to be close to work to continue to work as I studied and to help my family. I was financially providing for my family at this point. I applied and got in the first round. I finished the diploma in 10 months and was given a job at the hospital as part of the scholarship. I was placed on the general surgery ward. This specialised in colorectal, breast and endocrine, plastics and ear, nose and throat surgeries. They provided education sessions weekly, I learned team work and post-operative care for so many surgeries. This job not only helped my family as it doubled my income, but I knew it was part of Heavenly Father’s plan for me. I could not have known that I would have needed this experience. I didn’t know that the path that I was on would lead me to where I am now. I worked that job for 18 months before wanting to continue my education.
In my nursing program, all students begin interning in geriatrics; almost all first placements are in nursing homes. It is one of the most neglected areas of nursing that a lot of nurses avoid. It is often not really considered a real nursing by other nurses working in the hospital. It is not acute, there is very little input from other health professionals and it is long term care with little to no nursing skills or intervention required. It requires a lot of hard work, patient basic care with very little time for real patient interaction and teaches time management in one of the most ruthless ways.
When I went on my first placement I was 16. I was a lifelong church member, raised in a conservative Mormon family of all daughters. Because of this, I had never seen a naked male —until my first day nursing placement. That day, the staff had given me an elderly gentlemen to help with his cares. He was normally independent and just needed prompting. However he was ill this day. And he was sexualising me. I had no idea what to do. They had left me alone with an elderly man that instead of following my direction, was trying to grope me. This was my first experience with what many nurses face. I placed the elderly gentleman in a safe position and went to go get help. The man was suffering from a urinary tract infection, that causes confusion and makes people act out of character. This was picked up when I reported how he had responded when I went to get him ready that morning. In trade-off, the senior nurses asked for help with their current job—which was in bathing a paraplegic gentleman. As a conservative Mormon teenager, I was inexperienced with some sexual anatomy things that the nurses expected me to know. This day was a baptism by fire. Had my dad not fought so hard for me to getting into this nursing program, I honestly would have quit nursing right there. But having family support, and knowing that this was not reflective of all nursing, I knew it would get better.
I understand why my nursing school does this. It teaches you the foundational skills you will need in a hospital. But I also understand why nursing jobs in aged care are neglected and why often there is a shortage of nurses. With an aging population, life expectancy being extended as we learn more about health and have access to modern medicine. Nursing care in aged care homes or assisting people in their homes needs more attention. While some of the softest and kindest people dedicate their lives to nursing in nursing homes, due to the high demand of staff it is often where people who have more nefarious intentions can end up. They are not staffed correctly and so the residents and patients are the ones who suffer. Especially if the facility places importance on their bottom line as opposed to the quality of life for their residents.
I always wanted to work in midwifery. But I also found a passion for surgical nursing that I never thought I would. In Sydney, you need to do your Registered Nursing first and then apply to do a postgraduate in midwifery. But due to the popularity, getting into midwifery in Sydney would be hard. Most Registered nurses who were amazing apply every year for 5 years and are still unsuccessful. I wanted to do the dual degree, to complete both a lot faster. However, they only offered the dual degrees back in Brisbane. I was aware that I was also a huge support to my family financially. I also loved my job and could have continued to work while I studied if I stayed. I prayed and fasted on what Heavenly Father had planned for me. My family also did the same. However, our answers did not match. This broke my heart. But I decided to leave the decision with the Lord. Getting into a dual degree would not be easy. It required a high rank and was highly unlikely I would get it. Whereas nursing in Sydney at this point was a given. I sent in applications to both Brisbane for the dual and Sydney to do my registered nursing. If Heavenly Father wanted me to the dual I would get in. If not, I would stay, do my registered nursing.
The Sunshine Coast University granted me a spot to do the dual degree. Heavenly Father wanted me to do the dual degree. I packed up my belongings, and travelled back to Brisbane. Not before I had a huge car accident that used up half of my savings I had for when I first got to Brisbane. I got a job within the first week of getting to Brisbane, but I was 2 weeks behind in my classes. I had to catch up and had no idea what I was doing. The dual degree program was cancelled the next year as not a lot of people were completing it due to the difficulty. My intake was the last intake, they needed to teach it out. But that meant if I gave up, there was no way to get back into the dual at my university. A lot of my friends in the dual dropped one degree. Some just did nursing and others just midwifery. The things expected from each degree were completely different. In midwifery you give it a go under supervision. In nursing, if you aren’t taught it you can’t do it even if you are supervised and sometimes you are taught it but not allowed to do it. It needs to be taught but until you have your qualification and are employed you can’t attempt it.
After all these trials. I know it is exactly what I want to do. After helping multiple women bring their babies into the world. Educating them to be the strong powerful women they are. It was not without heartache. But I couldn’t see myself in any other job. Having completed the dual degree finally, I am hoping that for the next step in my journey will be in rural and remote midwifery and nursing. To empower people to champion their own care with the information I can provide.
I feel like Heavenly Father has called me to be a nurse and a midwife. I see his hand leading and guiding me constantly. This profession has strengthened my relationship with my father in heaven. In this profession I am able to share his love and be the tool I pray to be in other’s lives. People are vulnerable when I meet them in my line of work. When I communicate with love, people feel safe and are able to trust me. Heavenly Father knew this career was for me. He knew exactly how I needed to get here. He has placed certain people in my path to assist and make me the person I am. Often we don’t always understand our purpose, why death is necessary or why such kind people are taken from us. While these moments hurt, I have never been so sure of Heavenly Fathers plan as I am at those moments. I feel the spirit so strong at those moments. The more I learn about the human body and the incredible way Heavenly Father has designed this world, the more I know He Lives, and He loves us.