The challenges presented in delivering remote healthcare during COVID-19 have resulted in a rewarding opportunity for one Bundaberg-based RFDS flight nurse.
Kathryn McKenzie, who joined the Royal Flying Doctor Service just under a year ago, has recently returned from a two-month rotation in Mount Isa.
While she initially planned to work out west for just four weeks, Kathryn agreed to prolong her stay to minimise travel requirements and the associated risks in response to COVID-19.
“A rotation program was implemented this year between the Bundaberg and Mount Isa bases to assist with coverage during periods of leave and even though I had planned on travelling to Mount Isa for four weeks, it ended up being eight,” she said.
Having nursed for 10 years in emergency departments on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, Ms McKenzie said she had long aspired to work for the RFDS and what she considered to be a “special job”.
“The work has been amazing and I’ve gotten to meet some very skilled and experienced nurses while enjoying a whole different side to nursing and healthcare,” she said.
“In one way it is similar to working in an emergency department as you never know who you will be looking after or what condition you will be treating. It keeps things interesting.”
It was that willingness to embrace new experiences which led Ms McKenzie to one of the first outback rotations offered by the Bundaberg Base.
“I really enjoyed the experience, as the work in Mount Isa is quite different to what we do on the coast, which predominantly involves hospital transfers.
“As a nurse based in Mount Isa you may attend a primary incident on a station or in a community that has a nurse-only clinic.
“It was new for me to do a dirt strip landing into a station or coordinate with a small community to get treatment started ahead of a primary retrieval in an isolated location.
Ms McKenzie said the rotation allowed her to experience and appreciate another side to the RFDS.
“I was using a wider range of skills and it definitely opened my eyes as to what we can do and just where I can go working as a nurse within the Service,” she said.
“The different challenges that I had to overcome, such as logistics, I can take back into my current practice. I’ll be more prepared now for how to deal with challenges, be safe as a crew member and produce better patient outcomes.
“You can always expand on what you do.
“The more places you go, the more you grow as a person and a clinician, the better prepared you are for what might come in the future.”
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