Twists and Turns to become a Nurse


Life never quite takes the trajectory that we expect it to. Nurse Rachel shares her story about going from budding film-maker to newly qualified Registered Nurse in Outback Australia.

According to my 16-year-old self, I am supposed to be a hugely successful (and wealthy) film director/producer rubbing shoulders with James Cameron and Ron Howard, even better, Guy Ritchie.

However here I am, sitting in a board room which is currently acting as my office, fielding calls from mental health clients, my boss and the telemarketer who doesn’t understand that we don’t donate to mental health support services because we are a mental health support service!

Hi! I’m Rachel and I’m a newly qualified Registered Nurse who currently works in a mental health support and recovery service acting at the moment as an all-rounder until my partner and I leave to travel in August. From a young age I was very interested in mental health. It may have spawned from watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest one too many times or it may have been from seeing how a mental illness can affect entire lives; in particular, my Father’s.

I always thought I would go into film-making because I excelled in it at high school and enjoyed creating stories that others would find interesting. I liked marrying up my interest in mental health and portraying it on VHS (yep, it was the 90’s!).

As life seems to do, my passion for film-making went by the way-side due to an annoying requirement in life called ‘paying rent’ and ‘being a responsible grown-up’ so once I had left home, I started working in cold-calling sales; a horrible, horrible job. So horrible that I quit after a year and was left unemployed, broke and over-staying my welcome at my sister’s house. I applied for sales jobs believing it was all I could do because it was all I knew. Then I saw an advertisement to support a man with quadriplegia. For some reason I applied and surprisingly, got the job! From there, I was offered more carer positions for people living with a disability. Moving back to my hometown, I started working at a local nursing home and after a couple of years, I was offered a scholarship to become an Enrolled Nurse. I had never even considered becoming a nurse before!

It took me three years’ part time to become an Enrolled Nurse which went in the blink of an eye. I saw how many opportunities I now had with my Diploma of Nursing in my blue-gloved hand and my interest in mental health returned.

I moved on to work as a community nurse and was zipping around in the little work car when I received a call from the manager of a local mental health support service. Pulling over (of course!) I listened as the manager asked if I would like to meet her and discuss the possibility of working one day a week to support the current coordinator. Well, the one day a week didn’t last for long and I was soon working there full time.

By this time, I had started studying for my Registered Nursing degree through Charles Darwin University. Fortunately, my manager is very flexible and allowed me as much time off to complete my clinical placements as I needed.

In March and April this year, I did placement in the Northern Territory working at remote Aboriginal communities Ali Curung, Canteen Creek, Tennant Creek and Hermannsburg. I had one of the greatest times of my life and I will be doing a Transition to Remote program after my grad year. I have applied for a nursing graduate position at Alice Springs Hospital so finger’s crossed!

As my partner and I travel up the West coast of Australia and down the middle of the NT to Alice Springs, we will be visiting some nursing stations and I will be recording footage of the places we visit. So maybe my interest in film-making will eventuate after all!

So often life takes you down different roads, roads that you never thought you’d travel. I’m so happy I applied for that job supporting the man with quadriplegia because fast forward 14 years and I now have a qualification I am proud of and a career in front of me that I love.

My favourite quote is ‘She was never quite ready but she was brave, and the universe listens to brave’.

Rachel is an RN and a keen blogger on


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