Ever wondered what it’d be like to relocate down under and travel around the country working as a nurse? We had a chat with Rachel Sullivan and Samuel Martin AKA Go Anywhere Nursing to get the inside scoop on working and playing in the Aussie sun.
Hi Guys. Where are you currently based?
Rachel – I’m in the Sunshine Coast doing day to day agency nursing.
Sam – I’m doing a contract working at a correctional facility in Queensland.
What nursing qualifications do you hold that have enabled you to nurse in Australia?
Rachel- I went to university in Canada at The University of Ottawa and completed my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. With proof of my education and my current registration in Canada I was able to gain my Australian nursing registration. I worked in Canada for a year and a half before I came over to Australia since all of the agencies that I have come across require a minimum of 12 months nursing experience before doing agency nursing. I discuss how to do this as an internationally trained nurse in more detail in our blog.
Sam- I completed a Bachelor of Nursing in 2011 at Southern Cross University in Lismore, NSW and got registered with AHPRA from there.
Where’s been the most unusual place nursing has taken you in Australia so far?
Rachel- I’ve nursed in most major cities like Brisbane, Sydney and Perth and smaller places like Hervey Bay and Sunshine Coast but I’m interested to go work in some more remote and rural areas. I’ve worked in lots of different specialities like medical, surgical, day surgery, recovery, ICU, and even some psych wards.
Sam- The most unusual two places I have worked so far are Nimbin and a maximum security prison. Nimbin has a very diverse patient population – with events like their annual MardiGrass we had patients presenting with drug overdose and being a rural country town we would have large walk in traumas. I also consider my time as a corrections nurse as unusual as it’s not a work place I expected to be exposed to when I finished university.
How long have you been nursing and travelling for?
Rachel- I have been nursing a bit over 3 years. I left Canada in August 2015 and have been using my nursing career to help me travel since.
Sam-I have been nursing since 2012 and travel nursing since 2015.
What made you want to take your nursing skills on the road with you?
Rachel – Part of what made me want to go into nursing was the dream of doing search and rescue nursing and volunteering abroad. Travel nursing seemed to me like a great start to that career path. I also enjoy travelling and didn’t want to just work in one place and only get to take trips on my days off, but to use my nursing skills to allow me to live anywhere I wanted.
Where’s been the most amazing place you’ve visited in Australia?
Sam- The whole east coast of Australia is magical. I’ve done a lot of travelling and still think the north coast of NSW is the best place in not only Australia but the world.
Rachel- For me, initially coming to Australia as a backpacker I’ve done a lot of the major tourist attractions. My highlights however have been some of the smaller hidden gems, my favourites being snorkelling with seals in Narooma, NSW, Jervis Bay just south of Sydney, and Wilsons Promontory in Victoria.
Where would you say are top 5 bucket list places to visit in Australia?
After seeing the main attractions we’d say:
Ningaloo Reef, WA
Daintree Forest, QLD
How does nursing in Australia compare to nursing in Canada?
There are some things that definitely take a bit to get used to. I have found that the paperwork, the way that controlled substances are handled, medication names, and the education for nurses are different compared to that in Canada. There are some things I prefer more over here and some things I wish were more like Canada. However the biggest positive I’ve noticed is the work-life balance is much better in Australia and the culture in the hospitals is a lot more relaxed. For me these positives outweigh the negatives because nursing is still just a job.
What’s the best thing about nursing in an Australian hospital?
The culture in an Australian hospital is very laid back. That’s not to say anything about the quality of the patient care. But the best thing about working in an Australian hospital is the friendly atmosphere that makes going to work more enjoyable.
What kind of nursing jobs have you found whilst travelling?
We have come across every type of nursing jobs you can imagine. We are offered jobs for medical, surgical, cardiac, recovery, critical care and corrections nursing. We also come across jobs for psych, community, immunisation, aged care, and general practice. The list goes on! And you can find work on a contract or casual basis!
How do you source your nursing jobs whilst travelling?
These days we stick to agencies. We get contracts or day to day agency work if there’s no contracts at the time. We have a few different agencies that we work with. You can check our blog for a list of these agencies and why we work for them.
How long do you work vs travelling?
We class travel nursing as basically a big holiday. While we are working full time we also spend our free time exploring the area we are living in. We tend to smash out this full time work for 3-6 months and then reap the benefits and take a big trip. However the last two years we’ve both probably averaged working 6 months of each year and spending the rest of the year travelling overseas.
Where’s next on your travel list?
As far as work related travel goes we’re both interested in heading over to Western Australia to do some contracts and get to explore the vast untouched coastline. We are also very interested in trying come nursing on the pacific and Torres Strait islands along the Australian coast populated by indigenous communities. When it comes to travel for pleasure, we are planning a trip to Canada for the holidays and have some trips that are still on the drawing board like Asia and South America.
What’s a surprising/invaluable thing you’ve learned whilst nursing and travelling in Australia?
Now this won’t be surprising to read, but it’s much different when you’re actually putting it into practice. Speak up when you feel unsafe and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Every facility you work at will do things slightly different so it doesn’t make you a bad nurse to ask questions, to check their policy and procedure, to question the practice if you feel it’s unsafe.
For example, I worked in an ICU in a facility and was starting an inotrope infusion. The doctor and a fellow nurse told me they usually start the medication at “4”, I questioned the dose, 4 mg/h, mcg/kg/hr? I insisted they show me where I could find the policy and procedure before starting the medication. Although the other nurse and doctor thought this was unnecessary, I felt it was unsafe not to. That doesn’t make me a bad nurse, it makes me a safe nurse.