Elaina - The Happy Nurse

Elaina - The Happy Nurse

Elaina is an RN and founder of The Happy Nurse. She is on a mission to reduce Nurse burnout by promoting self care and encouraging her Nurse colleagues to offer them selves the same compassion that they so freely give to others. Elaina has a vision of reaching 1 million Nurses with her podcast by the end of the year.
Thank you for agreeing to chat with me! Can I start by asking where you trained and what your first job as a nurse was?
Yes of course. I trained in Aberdeen in Scotland. My first job as a Nurse was on an Orthopaedic Trauma Unit.
Wow you would have seen a lot of interesting things there I am sure. How did you find the transition from school to hospital?
I was part of a cohort who undertook “Project 2000” nurse training. It was the transition between hospital based training and university based. I spent a total of 18 months of my 3 years on prac. The final 9 months was what they called rostered service where we rotated through 4 different specialities, Surgical, Medical, Community and Aged Care. We were counted in the numbers and given our own patient load. My Surgical prac was 9 weeks on the Orthopedic trauma unit. The ward sister offered me a job at the end of my prac. So I had a intro to my first role as a student Nurse. I was only 20 when I qualified though and looking back now, I can’t quite believe I did it.
Wow that is amazing! Do you think all that time on the floor helped your transition? Do you think current universities offer enough practical experience?
Yes all the time on the floor definitely eased my transition. I knew exactly what was ahead of me and had lots of hands on practical experience. It was a bonus scoring my first role in an area I had already been exposed to. It’s a tricky one with the amount of practical experience. I think if they were to do something similar it would have to be a longer course to hit all the theoretical components. I did 40 contact hours per week for the whole 3 years. Only 2 week break at summer and a week at Christmas and Easter.
That sounds like a lot of hard work. So where did you move to after the trauma unit?
I went to Theatre, been in operating department ever since. I did scrub scout initially then went into recovery where I still work.
Could you choose a favourite between scrub/scout and recovery?
Yes - recovery. I have been in recovery since 2004.
Haha! And what do you love about it?
Across big theatre suites, day surgeries and endoscopy. I love the high acuity. I was lucky to find a speciality area that I loved early in my career.
Did you think you would love recovery before you joined? Or did you just kind of start there and then realised how much you loved it?
I always thought I would stay in scrub scout but after burning out I gave recovery a go in the same department and loved it. The unit manager was an amazing educator and to this day I am grateful to her for passing on her wisdom to me. That was in Aberdeen, I moved to Perth in 2010.
Can I ask what made you move to Perth?
My now ex husbands job. I have burnout out twice. That is what sparked my interest in mindfulness and meditation and my further studies.
Can you tell me about being burnt out. How did you realise that is what it was and how did you overcome it?
So my burnout story is quite long. A year into my nurse training, my Mum who was also a Nurse was involved in an MVA on her way home from work and died. This was a huge thing for me as an 18 yr old to process. I kept going and finished uni but 6 months into my nurse career I had an emotional breakdown. I was about to turn 21 and it was enough to tip me over the edge. I took some time out and got back to work within a month or so. I then met the man who would become my first husband. I found happiness again and the 2 of us spent 2003 in Sydney where I worked as a Nurse. Not long after my return from Sydney, my younger brother who was 2.5 hrs younger than me was involved in a MVA and died. This was less than 6 yrs after Mum and was another massive loss in my life. I put on a brave face and tried to carry on but one morning about a year later, my world came crashing down. I was living in Aberdeen and I left home to walk to work this particular morning but instead of walking around the corner to work, I got in the car and started driving south, I drove for 3 hours and ended up in Glasgow. I had turned my phone off, my colleagues and family were all concerned and trying to contact me. When I got to Glasgow, I pulled over and burst into tears. I listened to the voicemails of my distraught family and friends, then called my fiancé to let him know what I had done. That was my turning point. Life had become so overwhelming I just wanted to run away. I realised though when I got to Glasgow, running wasn’t a good idea and so I got myself home to my loved ones and started on my journey to recovery. Being introduced to CBT by my therapist was what sparked my interest in personal development. Mindfulness and meditation have taught me to offer myself the same compassion that I do freely give to others.
Thank you so much for sharing that Elaina, I can't imagine the pain you went through. It is so amazing and brave that you were able to take control and accept the help needed to turn things around. So I guess that leads us to the Happy Nurse. For those who haven't heard of the Happy Nurse can you please explain what it is exactly and how you came to create it?
The Happy Nurse is a culmination of my 20yrs of clinical experiences and my passion for personal development. I am trained in mindfulness, meditation, NLP and hypnotherapy. It came to fruition a few years ago through the encouragement of my colleagues. Following the birth of my youngest son I took a couple of years off for maternity leave due to having a FIFO husband. I just did the occasional casual shift at a local day surgery. During this time I also had a coaching practice. In 2016 my marriage ended and as a single mum I decided to go back to nursing on a more permanent basis for a more stable income. Going back with a coaches mindset was eye opening. I realised how stressed some of my nursing colleagues were. I offered them advice in chatting with them to help them deal with their stress. A few of them started to encourage me to teach what I was sharing with them. I eventually got past my imposter syndrome and ran my first Happy Nurse workshop in Perth just under 2 years ago. This was the beginning of The Happy Nurse as you see it today. I coach / mentor Nurses to prioritise their self care to assist them in burnout prevention. I run workshops and webinars for facilities. I have a podcast - The Happy Nurse which is available on all major platforms. I am also a contributing author to the upcoming Anxiety Relief Handbook which is published later this month. I am also a sought after speaker to speak at nursing seminars.
That is amazing! Go you! I will definitely be looking up your podcast. I can't even imagine the amazing things nurses could achieve if we all lifted each other up! How do you find juggling your nursing career with The Happy Nurse?
It’s fun juggling my clinical role and Happy Nurse as I am also a single mum to my 2 gorgeous boys. I only do 40hrs per fortnight in my clinical role and spend the remaining time on Happy Nurse. I have to remember to practice what I preach. I am so passionate about Happy Nurse that I sometimes get lost in it.
Do you have advice for any nurses that might want to start a side business or a side project?
Go for it! It’s a great way to explore your creativity and discover a new passion / interest. Just remember it’s about balance. You need down time too.
Can I ask how you spend your downtime? And do you have like a top self care tip for nurses?
Hanging out with my 2 gorgeous boys. I love being outside. I have a Stand Up Paddleboard which I love, it’s like meditation. On the Saturdays I don’t have my boys, I catch up with friends at a local beachside market for breakfast. I love to read, mostly non-fiction and personal development. My top tip is to offer yourself the same compassion that you so freely give to others.
Amazing! And before we finish up is there anything we haven't covered or anything else you would like to share?
Nothing springs to mind. Thank you for your time 😊
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me!

If you would like to be interviewed or write a guest post for the Nurse Life blog please get in contact at nurselifeaus@gmail.com

Stay safe brothers and sisters!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.