We chat with Melinda Beers, dog mumma and hockey enthusiast, about her rural and remote nursing journey. If you’ve ever thought of Rural and Remote nursing then this is a great read! Before you read on go join our exclusive PRIVATE FB Group ‘Rural & Remote Nursing | The Australian Outback‘ to ask questions and network with other like-minded nurses, midwives and students.

Sliding door moment to rural and remote nursing

After graduating in 2014 I had the initial knock back of missing out on a grad position in the first round of offers for Sydney 2015. I started applying to any job that didn’t stipulate experience and travelled 9 hours to interview in a small rural country town on the NSW border. I was offered and initially accepted a job at this facility a day before being called and offered a grad position at my local hospital in second round offers.

This is what I will always call my sliding doors moment, I decided to stick to my original offer and try something new, far away from home and completely out of my comfort zone! This is where my R&R adventure began, and I’ve never looked back! 

Outside of work, I’m a dog mumma, recently engaged to my travel buddy and partner Luke, am keen on just about anything sports and recreation. You’ll often find me filling in for hockey or football (AFL) teams in small towns when the opportunity arises or just mapping out KMs jogging in just about every place we’ve travelled, otherwise hunting down the best coffee or cafe around- another thing I love about being so transient! 

Can you tell us a bit about where you have worked?

I’ve worked in every state but neither territory (yet!) Rural and remote facilities I’ve worked at Barham (NSW), Mareeba (FNQ), Narromine (NSW), Mersey community hospital (TAS) Riverland General hospital (SA) Mount Gambier (SA), then WA: Broome, Onslow, Boyup Brook, Dongara, Tom Price, Dalwallinu, Quairading, Augusta, Kalgoorlie, Esperance and about to start in Carnarvon!

Any places really stood out?

‘I enjoy every place that I’ve worked! Geographically a few places have something a little extra- Tom Price with it’s proximity to Karijini was spectacular, as was Esperance and FNQ is another beautiful place but I’ve found if you ask the right people everywhere has a little bit of magic about it, You just need to find it!

Why Rural & Remote?

I started a R&R grad, I work up to a tertiary ED and working in some large Regional centres but the Autonomy and expanded skill set is what I love about R&R. There is nothing like managing incredibly sick resus patients in small centres with minimal staff and generally a GP or a telehealth doctor on a screen. Plus with the limitations, you often need to be inventive! Don’t have a syringe driver for those inotropes? Let me find a way to make my standard pump function like one.

Best thing about R&R??

Again the autonomy and the challenge from an ED perspective, becoming part of a small community and meeting a range of people and the many different ways of life across the country. Plus the ability to travel, make a living and see some incredible places along the way.

Top 5 pieces of advice R&R: 

1. Be flexible! No matter where your next posting, chances are they will do something different, have something different or just be different to what you’re used to! Flexibility means being able to roll with this and adapt to whatever challenges arise.

2. Don’t compare! No two people are the same and the same can be said for hospitals, clinic or health services. Trust me permanent staff generally don’t like blow ins telling them that the way we do it in such and such is better! It’s the best way to get people off side, I’ve seen it happen!

3. Talk to the locals, they’ll tell you the best places to go, see and things to do they might even take you (but always be careful with who and where, safety first)

4. Make sure you have downtime activities that you can take anywhere. Walking, reading, whatever it is make time for it, it can be easy to just live the working life with lots of on call and long hours a feature in many placements. 

5. Talk to your fellow nurses but take all recommendations with a grain of salt. Just because someone doesn’t like a location, hospital agency doesn’t mean you won’t, and vice versa. Experience places for yourself and make your own decision, talk is great but always keep an open mind and do your own research!