They’re our main points of contact in any hospital visit, but how well do we really know our nurses?
The Area News chats with Nyatwa MacKenzie, who has been working at Griffith Base Hospital in the Medical Ward and occasionally the Surgical Ward for eight years and says the community here has captured her heart.
Coming from Zimbabwe, she originally wanted to work in Sydney, however ended up in Griffith, a twist of fate she’s embraced.
Ms Mackenzie was inspired to become a nurse in her teenage year, and has never looked back from that defining moment.
“My mum was a health worker, and she was involved in doing people’s dressings at home and giving medications, and one day she was away, and a patient came who needed a dressing,” Ms MacKenzie remembered.
“It was a fresh wound and was bleeding - I couldn’t send them away, so I did the dressing and sent them to the hospital clinic.
“When the nurses saw my mum the next time, they asked who did the dressing and they said I should become a nurse.
“After that, that’s when I took it seriously, and I knew I could and wanted help people.”
Saving and changing peoples lives every day makes all the heart-ache worth it for Ms MacKenzie.
“The most rewarding part of the job, if you ask me, is the compliment from the patients and families.
“Just going home with that happy heart, knowing you have made a difference, and having an impact on changing people’s lives.
“You see the results. Someone will come in and they are not breathing, so you do CPR and the results happen within a few minutes.”
With nursing, there are also “endless opportunities," like travelling overseas, because she says the “language of medicine is the same.”
She says people don’t really realise, deep down, that nurses are human too, and go through patients’ and families’ struggles alongside them.
“The hardest thing? Nurses are human for a start. And like all humans, no one wants to hear bad news about their life. As nurses we are the ones who are involved and hands-on with patients, it’s so heavy to divulge bad diagnosis or prognosis or working with grieving families."
And although it's emotionally challenging, it’s about making the patient comfortable, and having that support network from fellow health practitioners around makes it easier.
“People don’t know the times when a nurse goes to the toilet to cry.
“They think we are people who are there to look after patients and we don’t have a heart, but after looking after a person you get connected, and sometimes they pass. It happens.
“Some nurses get so emotional they cry, but then they wipe their eyes and they come out smiling, and people don’t know because we try to hide it. Among ourselves we know it, and we all support each other.”
Over her eight years, Ms MacKenzie has seen many positive changes in the nursing industry, with a huge rise in empowerment in the ranks, as well as technology delivered to improve patient outcomes.
“There is a lot of change. Nurses are being empowered more, in so many ways – including leadership and speaking up - and we are being heard as well.”
As with any enterprise, technology has continued to redefine the job requirements, which help save lives.
“In medications, right now we are being trained to do online medication called eMeds, which will be starting up in two months time, but has changed over the years since I started doing nursing.”
What Ms MacKenzie wants people to know: Nurses are there for the people.
“We are the ones who are in contact with people more than the doctors, even though we work together, the nurses are the go between - we are the advocate person between them, and we are the one monitoring their progress and decline, and initiate management for the best outcome.”