Maryann - A Nurse of All Trades

Maryann - A Nurse of All Trades

Today we are excited to speak with Maryann, a nurse with 30 years experience in range of areas, both specialty areas and geographical areas.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today Maryann. Please tell me a little more about why you decided to go into nursing and how you began your career?

I had a grand father who died when I was 12. He had a brain tumor so spent a lot of time in his last year in hospital. My Nan always used to say Pa thought I’d be a good nurse so that’s what I did. I went to Armidale Uni being one of the first through the university program then went to Westmead hospital for my grad year. Spent 14 months there, went to UK for about 6 months and then returned to Westmead worked in hematology oncology and loved it. Was very young but learnt lots.

Oh wow! How did you find the university program? Was there a good balance of practical and theory? Did you ever run into differences with nurses who were hospital trained who might not have agreed with the change? What made you decide to go to UK and how different is the healthcare system there to here?

Being the first year there was a lot of conflict from hospital trained nurses especially the young hospital trained ones. Throughout our training and through our grad program at Armidale we had 2 weeks at the end of year 1 as practical, about 6 weeks placement in year 2 but then year 3 we only had 6 weeks at uni and the rest in placements. In city areas their placements were very different. I was never going to not be a nurse but for those who still weren’t sure nearly a whole year without a placement was tough. The nurses who agreed with the change in training were those who wanted nursing to be more professional or at least recognized as more professional which they felt needed a university degree.

I always wanted to travel so as soon as possible I went. It was too soon I didn’t have enough experience or confidence. I’ve always been an emotional person making emotional choices looking back but it is what it is. I didn’t stay long working in the UK system, it was so antiquated with what I was used to!! I came home because of emotional reasons but I had done agency work over in London which was interesting but I was also homesick. Returned to Westmead but also went out to Alice Springs which was an incredible experience. I didn’t stay long enough!! More travelling!!

Interesting time was being unemployed because of a job freeze at one time. Headed to Saudi Arabia which was a whole new experience. Saudi had similarities to Alice Springs! Indigenous Australians were very similar to desert Arabs in their outlooks, communities and communication. Very social experience but also saw patients and diseases not seen elsewhere as was at Riyadh hospital a research hospital and one for the very rich. Came back married and pregnant!!

After baby was born back to Westmead!! More experience in haematology oncology. Eventually my marriage split up, moved back to Tamworth NSW. I have worked there at base hospital, now a rural referral hospital. Moved to Gold Coast did a lot of agency work When I moved back to Tamworth worked at TRRH did ICU, Surgical, ED etc. but eventually got into primary care and loved it. Being able to work autonomously and give long term care to families is amazing. However in Tamworth there are some toxic workplaces so believing in oneself while educating yourself is so important.

It sounds like there might have been a bit of bullying going in when the change to university happened? Bullying is a big topic in nursing and I wonder if you think it is more or less prevalent now than when you started? What would be your advice to nurses who would like to travel and work overseas?

I absolutely believe nurses eat their young. I nearly left nursing in that first year I am a huge advocate of mentoring staff. It is what we need to ensure our nurses grow up to be caring empathetic nurses! It’s not only the older nurses who bully. It’s rife all in different age groups and areas. The lack of security I feel people must have to bully in the first place is sad. I see it in acute care private hospitals and primary care.

If I had any advice for those nurses travelling OS it will be to have a good background with experience, believe in yourself but be ready for a completely different experience which is OK because we learn this way!! Stay safe but be open to new experiences and learning new ways while also sharing your own knowledge and experience!! 

I’m actually doing a contract on Palm Island with Indigenous community right now. That has been interesting as it is run by nurses with Indigenous health workers. I’d really like to go now to do more Indigenous healthcare where there are some long term workers to see the difference!! That’s my next goal. I’ve done my Cert 4 in training and assessment but been unable to use it yet. Will hopefully along with mentoring be able to incorporate all of that together to make a difference!! I see our younger nurses coming through without some of the basics of nursing and also a lack of empathy or caring towards our patients the ones we are here for!!

What an amazing range of experiences you have had. Is there anything else you would like to add before we finish up?

I haven’t particularly specialized and felt less for that at times but it meant I can be adapting to where I work so I think it’s important to believe in yourself and be self aware 😊❤️.

Yes I feel a bit that way too. I have worked everywhere but not an expert anywhere. But I was proud to say in an interview the other day that you could put me anywhere in the hospital and I could adapt easily 🙂

Exactly it’s also why I loved hematology you needed know a bit about everything same in primary care!!

Thank you so much for chatting to us today Maryann.

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Stay safe brothers and sisters!


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