New Zealand-born nurse Anna Curtin is now sharing her skills full-time with Aboriginal women and children in Tennant Creek after earlier completing a short-term placement with the Australian Government-funded Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC).
RAHC recruits urban-based health professionals as temporary relief staff to support the permanent health workforce in Indigenous communities across the Northern Territory.
Anna was offered a permanent role as women’s health nurse with Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation in June 2016 during her second placement.
She graduated as a registered nurse at Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2010. Her first employment was at a nursing home and she also worked on an acute surgical ward, specialising in ear, nose and throat.
Wanting to pursue new challenges and adventures, Anna came to Australia in February 2016. She had already gained accreditation with RAHC. Her first call-up was in March 2016 to Tennant Creek.
“I had to google Tennant Creek because I hadn’t heard of it before,” she said.
“My first impression getting off the plane was it’s very hot and this adventure was really about to begin. It’s obviously very different to Christchurch. I felt really excited and that I had made a good decision.”
Anna said the work includes wound care, chronic disease care, children’s health, women’s health, renal treatment and health promotion. She has acted as clinical nurse manager and worked through a meningococcal outbreak.
She said the patients were friendly and curious about where she had come from.
“There are unique experiences here. It’s an honour working with and learning about another culture. It blows you away, it’s very special.”
She said some of the health issues were shocking.
“There are people here younger than I am who have heart failure, or are on dialysis and waiting for transplants. I hope to see and be a part of a change during my time here.”
Anna said the short-term placement through RAHC was a good way to gain exposure to the issues and challenges.
Her advice to health professionals wanting a desert change was: “Just do it, live your life, enjoy new challenges and adventures. Prepare to be challenged clinically, learn a lot about yourself and make some unforgettable memories along the way.”