Nurses – Where do we go from here?


I once worked with a nurse who, when I asked “How did you decide to do orthopaedic nursing?” she replied, “what? I haven’t decided anything, I’m still not sure what I want to do when I grow up!” (This nurse was in her 50’s).

paediatric nurse

When I finished university I was offered a place in St Vincent’s Hospital’s Transitional Support Program. I had no idea what wards I wanted to work on and was terrified of the idea of being place in a high acuity setting such as ICU or Emergency. Additionally I found a number of people asking me to choose between education, management or clinical nursing as my long term goal, and having just commenced full time work my long term goal was sleeping as much as possible and paying off debts.

After my first year of nursing I realised that I really wanted to work with children, and although I had no nursing experience in this area I applied and attended the interview having re-read all the notes I had from university on paediatric nursing. I got a job in an infant and toddler high dependency unit and I have been there ever since.

I think you can move around nursing as much as you want and experience a varied number of positions, and even if you are offered a job somewhere you were not expecting it still may turn out to be a great opportunity. I also think that nursing satisfaction is dependent on the work load and the team you work with. So my philosophy has always been to learn as much as possible, work within a team that I enjoy being a part of and know that I will always have time to move around and decide what I want to be when I grow up…. if I want to.

Have anyone ever had a drastic change in clinical field? or Have you ever worked somewhere that challenged your judgments about that field of work?

Additionally, have you ever lacked the confidence to try something new? and what do you think we could do to improve the self confidence of nurses?

Photo credit: Pbase


  1. Rural You beautiful city nurses have much to choose from and bless you we do need you … but do think of us rural nurses and just because we choose to stay in the sticks and do the general hard slog that we don’t dream of each speciality that interests us but due to family and community commitments we stay were we are.

    OOooohhhhhh we need you in the speciality area do not get me wrong and we love you for the fantastic work you all do but please remember that inbeteen the few larger cities and major cities in Australia …. there are many of us that fill the space …. I like to think of as the backbone of health in Australia.

  2. Nurses-where do we go from here? For me that is a question fraught with confusion and uncertainty. Management will probably get their way and force me to work in another area where I have no knowledge or experience in that specialty or my ICU skills and knowledge are completely wasted on mundane basic tasks. It is a strategy to drive me so crazy with frustration that I resign and they have rid themselves of a `broken’ ,` problem’. The irony is that I would never have injured myself in the first place if my manager allowed a simple piece of manual handling equipment – cheap slide sheets. It is the same old chestnut of you are partially disabled because of our negligence but we will blame you and try to get rid of you.

    I am open to conciliation with my manager but she wants me out of her unit. The union organizer I am still saddled with will undoubtedly allow my employer to do whatever they please to me. She has made it abundantly clear that she is completely disinterested in my situation and is rooting for the employer as she is an ex-ADON.

    I had aspirations of completing my Masters in Clinical Practice and working toward an educator position. But now it seems I will finish my career the same way I began it grade 1 level 1 nothing. When I reflect on my career in years to come there will be little to feel proud about. I accomplished nothing and went nowhere. All thanks to an injury and my employer’s subsequent actions. I wish I had thought to do another course all those years ago. Young and stupid I guess.

  3. Is there a statewide nursing staff freeze? Is it hard to get any nursing job at the moment let alone having the option to choose an area to specialise? I have friends in rural areas that are having a hard time finding permanant F/T nursing work and from what I have been reading on this blog over the last few months its a similar story in the city. I remember when I started nursing at RPAH in 1987 I had a choice of 7 specialty wards to choose from. Is it my imagination or is it worse than ever with the permanent staff being constsntly asked to do double shifts?

  4. Nurses-where do we go from here? I have worked in the country /rural NSW & QLD. It would make no difference if I were working there or here. In the country they would have laid me off as soon as I didn’t immediately recover because you have to be jack of all trades . They can’t work with one RN /Midwife off on worker’s compensation. I worked as a Midwife at Bundaberg Base Hospital for two years and on a contract in Narrabri Hospital (38 beds only) to replace an RN/Midwife who had to take urgent leave. I actually do understand how it is to work out there. I stay here too because my family commitments are here. I do think you are the backbone of health care and work under impossible conditions that city dwellers would never believe. I can’t work in a ward because of my lifting restriction. I couldn’t keep stopping to ask my co-workers (laden with 10 patients of their own) to keep dropping everything to help me lift a patient.

    I suspect I know where they will try to force me to work. I have absolutely no experience in that area at all and it operates only during business hours. Leaving me with half my salary for no reason other than punishment for speaking up about being bullied.

    I have no other source of income or partner to go out and earn the bacon while I take it easy and work part-time or casual. The surgeon said I should not be working the hours I am doing but if I don’t I end up bankrupt and homeless. What kind of future career do I have? Not even a nursing home would take me on because I have permanent damage and they are scared that I would make another claim whilst employed by them. If they succeed in transferring me I will earn half the money ,pay increased rent and even more car parking costs (They don’t provide enough permanent parking for RNs . We have to park in the public car park because the council made the surrounding streets all 2hr parking zones.) I will be frustrated because I don’t understand what I’m doing and going under financially. No penalty rates,no weekends , no public holidays, no overtime.. No pleasant future and no escape from this situation.


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