Seven Seasons in Aurukun

IMG_4326A year after I started work in Aurukun a book was published (2009) Called “The Seven Seasons in Aurukun”. It was written by a woman who’d been a young teacher for two years in Aurukun in 2004/5. It was the book I’d wanted to write, her experiences, her impressions. She didn’t try and explain the “Indigenous Situation”, wasn’t overly political, the book was highly personal. Just want I needed to read at that time, to see how another woman had survived in Aurukun. I’d been writing my own account in a journal with the thought that it would one day make an interesting read. She was a teacher, I was a nurse, both had very different jobs and relationships, but when I heard about her book I assumed I didn’t have anymore to add.
Sitting around the white plastic table in the kitchen of the clinic one morning, the nurses discussed this book. A male nurse loudly stated his opinion that the book was “self-indulgent crap”. I cringed inwardly wondering how he’d judge anything I wrote in the future. It’s taken me a few years to realize someone is always going to say that about anyones memoir, and worse. It doesn’t matter, we all have a story within our one life and only we can express it.
I’m now on the third draft of my remote area nurse memoir and I hope I’m prepared for any opinion, comments and judgements when it’s published. Each story passed on adds to the wealth of human experience.

Learning

There are many ways to learn, many paths to education. I completed my nursing training at Maryborough Base Hospital in 1991. It gave me a Certificate in Nursing. I now have that certificate plus over 25 years of nursing experiencing. I never had the time or money to upgrade my certificate to a degree as I was responsible for bringing up my four children. Now I plan to begin a creative writing degree next year, but I’ve been writing one way or another for over 50 years!

There is endless discussion on whether hospital or university education produces better nurses. Valid arguments come from both sides. Each needs to qualify what they mean by better, but it’s difficult not to be in agreement with both sides. And what about the many writers over the years who have never been to university and yet have produced much loved and treasured stories? The ideas and thoughts around learning and education are endless.

When I began remote area nursing, I had my certificate in nursing, 15 years of paediatric experience and two years in a small private hospital. I wasn’t an emergency trained nurse. The DON (Director of Nursing) in Aurukun told me, when also telling me what skills were needed for remote work which I didn’t have, ” They’re just skills to be learnt, but we need someone of your experience and temperament.”

I was taught to suture, cannulate, plaster, take blood and evacuate patients by ambulance by my colleagues. I was doing the work for six months before I was offered a four day course in remote nursing skills. By then I considered myself capable. I read recently of a post graduate course in remote nursing. My five years of experience has turned me into a competent practitioner.

What am I getting at in todays post? Just a reminder that learning and education comes in different guises and to be open to accepting what’s offered to you, don’t discount learning experiences that come less formally, Life’s a great teacher. I have probably learnt the most during my nursing years from people considered the least important, patients and their families, enrolled nurses and health workers and agency nurses like myself.

The photo is me sitting with visiting desert women to Aurukun in October 2008 learning to weave baskets, they spoke no English.

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