Meet David, who has been an AIN for a little over four years now primarily in stroke and palliative care, based in Sydney. His wife (who is one of the valued allied health personnel at her hospital) and David own four parrots and a dog. And the spiciest foods he can handle are ghost peppers and Carolina Reapers!

After 14 years in hospitality, tell us about the transition to an Assistant in Nursing?

After I had passed the 10 year mark, I began feeling disillusioned about the hospitality industry. It was good, honest work to be fair, but for me there was no future in it. I had also grown to dislike working like a dog for minimum wage. I had grown up around healthcare (my father is a retired doctor who spent most of his career that wasn’t in private practice either on medical wards or emergency, and my mother is a happily retired nurse and midwife of forty+ years experience).

A number of my friends had suggested to me over the years that I would make a good nurse, so to that end, I’ve started the journey (slowly but surely)

What impact or influence did your mother have on you?

I don’t actually work at the same facility as my mother did (she worked pretty much everywhere from neonatal to aged and palliative care). I remember her occasionally talking about her work, and some part of me became intrigued. I guess you could say that she instilled in me the desire to help people.

What training did you need to become an AIN in a hospital?

To work as an AIN, I went to TAFE and studied a Certificate III Health Services Assistance (Nursing/Acute Care).

What does a typical day look like for you in stroke rehab and palliative care?

That depends on which shift I’m doing.

AM shift – Sit up and set up patients for breakfast and lunch where needed, check any blood sugar levels needed, assist patients with their ADLs as needed, assist with any hoist/Sara Stedy transfers as required and take patient observations as required.

PM shift – Check bedside gases and suction gear, assist patients with dinner and ADLs as required, pad changes and pressure area care as required, take patient observations as required.

Night shift – Calibration of the blood sugar machines, pad checks and pressure area care as required, take patient observations as required. In addition to all of this, I also assist the RNs as required (for example, rolling a patient onto their side if there’s a dressing that needs changing).

Strokes being strokes, our patients generally range from their early sixties right up to what I would describe as venerable (I’ve helped to care for a few centenarians in my time). I have also looked after a few amputees (my ward also gets a few orthopaedic patients from time to time).

What’s the hardest part about working in these areas?

Sometimes – depending on the size and location of the stroke – the patients can be very difficult to deal with. They can often be resistant to care, combative or even – thankfully rarely – violent. The hardest things I’ve found about working in palliative care is performing the care of the deceased, and also taking them to the mortuary when required. Thankfully, however, I have had some very thoughtful advice in that regard which makes these last two duties easier to bear.

What do you wish someone told you before you started down this journey 4 years ago?

I did find it a bit challenging switching career paths as I approached the big 4-0, so some advice in that regard would have been welcome at the time.

Do you plan on studying nursing?

I do indeed plan to study nursing. Ideally I would study the Diploma of Nursing first, and after that think about whether or not I would want to study the Bachelor of Nursing.

Any final words or comments or advice for nurses or AIN’s about your role?

For the AINs, remember that you are performing a very important and necessary role. Always remember that. For the ENs/RNs, we may be here to help you in the fulfilment of your roles, but please don’t treat us as slave labour. I’m not saying that this has happened to me personally (the ENs/RNs I work with are fabulous), but the possibility is there.