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Meet Carly Jowitt, aA cat mum, who loves travelling cooking and a varied clinical work life! She has been a Film Set Nurse, Nurse Immuniser, Academic, Telehealth nurse and so much more! She has kindly written this piece to give you some insights into her career and the variety nursing can offer!
What has COVID-19 been like?
It was a real challenge at first financially. I was working 3 nights a fortnight permanent part time at the hospital and all my other roles were casual.
The casual work all stopped, filming was off, agency nurses were no longer wanted, and to top it off I have a lot of leave saved and was put on enforced leave. So for about 6 weeks things were pretty tough, but I put myself out there and found plenty more work.
Covid roles I had: screening staff/visitors, hotline nurse, swabber, quarantine hotel nurse and triage nurse at the airport for international arrivals.
It’s hard to pinpoint the main impact Covid has had on me, with all the lockdowns I definitely had a lot of time to assess my life and where I was at. My husband and I had always had a one day we’ll pack our lives into the back of the car and travel Australia plan, and covid pushed us to make one day happen.
I guess it’s made me realise that nothing is a certainty and life is too short to be stuck in one place. It’s highlighted to me how adaptable I am in terms of jobs and made me realise how much I love to travel and how I took it for granted that I could just hop on a plane to anywhere in the world.
You were a mature entry student. Can you tell us about this journey and how you managed this shift?
I’m a pretty spontaneous person, but I think I sat on the idea of going back to uni for about 3-4 months, than had a f#*k it, just do it moment, I figured if I hated it I would quit. It seemed like a big investment of time, but I figured if I didn’t do it, in 4 years time I’d still be in the same place.
For the first year I continued working full time, which was pretty crazy thinking back, as I was working nights, so spent a few times sleeping in my car between lectures.
Getting over the age thing in my head was probably the hardest thing to do, when I was looking at friends the same age who where becoming principals of high schools and had their life sorted and here I was back at uni and working in a bar.
Can you give us a run down of your different nursing roles so far since your grad year to now?
This is definitely one of the jobs I love most. So prior to becoming a nurse & midwife I did an arts degree and acting is my first love. I’ve done a little bit of acting here and there, which is how I discovered the role of set nurse, when I was studying I also had a small role in a series and would chat to the nurse on set (we were filming on a boat and I get the worse sea sickness). After completing my grad year I contacted an agency that sends nurses out to sets.
So I can be on a film set for a few days or weeks or on the set of an advert just for the day. My main role is to be a first responder to any incidents, I also ensure if for example, we’re filming in the sun everyone is hydrated and has sunscreen. If there are children on set I act as a supervisor to ensure all filming guidelines are adhered to. For filming with newborns, I normally have to sign them off to say they are cleared to work.
When filming stunts, for example, one set I was on the main actor had to be dunked in a lake in the middle of winter, so we had a warm bath set up and monitored vitals to ensure she didn’t get hypothermia. For a large cast and crew I can be working in a team with other nurses or by myself on smaller shoots.
Corporate flu nurse immuniser
I completed my immuniser cert after my grad year, several others at the hospital I worked at were doing it so I thought I would too. Every flu season (March-June) I go round to offices in the city, set up in a little room and vaccinate a few hundred office workers. It was a nice straight forward job and it was a good change from the hospital. Then Covid, put a stop to that, but I am an immuniser so I can now do covid vaccines.
Academic at university
I completed my honours part-time during my grad year and the year after. I now tutor nursing & midwifery students and mark essays and exams as well. This had been great, as I can do it all online. I feel it keeps me up to date with all the information.
Another role that I didn’t really enjoy, working from home was great, but for anyone that’s ever worked at a call centre, it’s not for me….. people were angry about waiting on the phone, some would call just to abuse us. It wasn’t always easy to get the information needed to do the job, and often the calls were not medically related and the callers wanted general info.
Hotel quarantine nurse
This was a very short-lived stint as lockdown started and most of the hotels were closed down. But day to day was doing welfare checks on the hotel guests, swabs on anyone that needed it and meeting any other care that was needed.
Some long busy days, on your feet all day in PPE, I was working in the height of Summer, not ideal!!! the job is like it sounds, doing swab, after swab, after swab.
Triage nurse at the airport
I enjoyed this, it was a brand new role that was created and I was part of the first team to go out and work at the airport, it was exciting to be part of, great group of nurses working there, which of course always makes a job more fun. Essentially my job entailed ensuring arrivals went to the correct hotel. Did they have suspected covid? they went to the “positive” hotel. Passengers were assessed to ensure they were self-caring, if not how much assistance did they need, could they go to a hotel or did they need hospital-level care.
Nursing Podcast Head on View
The podcast was born from Covid. I think all nurses/midwives will relate that a good debrief with some wine and girlfriends is essential. Of course, covid put a stop to that, but we had a lot of facetime chats, I had been thinking for a while I need to set up some sort of business (not that we make any money from the podcast, but it’s nice to have a hobby) and Laura said she’s been wanting to start a podcast, so I said great let’s do it. Once lockdown was eased and we were allowed to meet up again we jumped in and started recording.
I like that it means we have regular catch-ups, although it can be a challenge with us on 3 different schedules, we make it work. We decided early on that no topic would be off-limits, so although the main focus is midwifery/pregnancy-related there’s nothing we won’t talk about. you can find us here. Instagram and available to listen across all podcast platforms
Who has been your favourite guest so far and why?
Fave guest so far, definitely Amanda. Amanda is a paraplegic, mum to one and currently pregnant with bubba 2. It was so insightful talking to someone about their experiences within the healthcare system. It’s tough being a new mum, but add on to that the difficulties with being paralysed and that’s a whole new dimension.
What are the main themes/issues that you want to cover within the podcast?
I want every woman to be educated about her pregnancy, to understand what is happening to her body and to know she has a voice and a say in the care of her and her baby.
What were the main hurdles and challenges with podcasting you’ve experienced so far?
Timing, trying to find a time to record, it’s impossible to have a regular recording schedule as we all shift work.
You’ve decided to pack up shop and start travel nursing/midwifery. Can you tell us about this?
This is something I thought about doing for so long, and covid gave me the push, best decision I’ve made. It’s very freeing. but I’ll be honest, when I first left Melbourne I didn’t have a contract locked in and I felt a bit nervous, like I had voluntarily made myself homeless and unemployed!!!! I quickly learnt that there is an abundance of work out there and apparently a midwife shortage. I’m currently in Hobart on contract and then who knows. I love the fact that I don’t know where I’m going next, I highly recommend it to everyone.
Travel nursing tips
- get a good consultant and have more than one.
- be clear with what you want e.g. private accommodation, certain working hours
- ask questions at your new contract – every place has their own way of doing things
- bring some items to make your accommodation more like home
- enjoy yourself
- be flexible
What is one thing you wish you would have known before you started nursing?
That you don’t have to be a martyr….there’s no prizes for always doing double shifts and not taking breaks…that is a fast route to burnout and I think you see it so much in the nursing profession it becomes the norm to work these outrageous hours and not take care of yourself.
What is one myth or common misconceptions that you want to debunk about nursing/midwifery?
That it makes you maternal and want to have babies… I’m quite happy to leave the babies at work!!!
What pathway would you like to see the future of your profession take over the next 10 years?
More birth centres, or home birth programs…wouldn’t that be wonderful if all birth rooms had baths and admission CTGs weren’t a thing.
What are some great resources that have helped you along the way?
- I found this Insta page so helpful when studying, even though she’s UK based, all her drawings are beautiful.
- The book Outback Midwife by Beth McRae
- TV series Call The Midwife, Love child, Amazing Grace
Who are the 3 people who have been most influential to you and why?
I always find these questions so hard to answer, I find it hard to pinpoint people who I drew my inspiration from. I find Rhea Demspey so interesting to listen to and her book was great to read.
My mum was a nurse, but to be honest I don’t think that had any influence on my decision to become a nurse. I actually remember thinking it was 100% not the job for me!
I remember talking to a friend’s girlfriend (she’s a nurse) when I was still debating whether to go back to uni and she was so passionate about being a nurse that it definitely encouraged me.
And lastly my husband, who always champions me to be my best self and 100% supports any idea I have.
What advice do you have for new nurses entering the profession?
At some point you will find yourself crying in the drug room, and that’s ok. Believe in yourself, advocate for yourself and find your people, because you will need them for serious debriefs.
How can we work better with other health professionals in the multi-disciplinary environment?
Communication, knowing how to contact other professionals, knowing what services are available and ensuring any care plan they have is communicated to the nurse/midwife. And just having a little respect for each other.
What’s one of your greatest accomplishments to date and what impact did it have on you, others, society or the world?
Getting my degree and then my honours. I proved to myself that I am capable. I’m not sure that I’ve impacted the world or society, but I hope I have made at least one person’s day better, be it a student, a co-worker or a patient.
If you could talk to a world-leading expert to gain insight on any topic, what would it be?
I would love to talk to a midwife who’s worked for medicins sans frontiers or the Red Cross. It’s a area I’ve always been really interested in. Having to work somewhere, where you don’t have any of the resources available, but you still need to provide the best care possible.
If you could change one thing only (anything at all), in nursing/health, what would it be and why?
Staffing levels, how nice would it be to always have adequate staffing levels without it always coming back to money.