When Anna Stein began nursing ten years ago she was terrified of her boss and asking them for leave.
Reflecting on her experience, she says it was a huge transition balancing shift work, a social life, and adult responsibilities for the first time.
‘That’s a lot of responsibility put on someone so young.’
She believes workplaces should be supportive towards new grads, and urges students to ask for help if they’re not coping.
‘If you don’t know something and you don’t ask, then that’s bad practice. You’re going to learn bad habits and you’re going to be miserable, so ask for help.’
Today Anna balances nursing with playing guitar in a few bands and combines both as volunteer camp nurse for Girls Rock! Melbourne, a summer band camp for girls, trans and gender-diverse teens.
Her career journey
Anna’s nursing career started after a suggestion from a careers counsellor.
Since graduating, she’s worked in acute, oncology, and ICU where she has undertaken postgraduate study. She also worked in an outpatient clinic for a year, an experience she enjoyed as patients had more autonomy.
‘I think that’s how healthcare should be… you really need to adapt to each patient’s individual needs, their culture, their social demographic.’
Anna next hopes to move into community nursing, where she’d like to further her interests in sexual and reproductive health. She says that most people have very little understanding of their sexual health, and providing education to patients is an important role for nurses.
She believes it might be more accessible sometimes for people to obtain advice and support from community sexual health nurses.
Music and nursing
Music has been an ongoing passion for Anna. While she’d been playing guitar intermittently since her teens, it wasn’t until two years ago she formed Würst Nürse, a punk band with four other nurses/nursing students.
She said the band is a great way for them to have a creative outlet.
Many of their songs are inspired by nursing, including songs about dialysis and night duty.
‘You know how they say nurses have a sick sense of humour? It’s a very unrealistic portrayal of our jobs’, she says. ‘It’s not at all serious.’
They do have a few serious songs though. ‘Dedication doesn’t pay the rent’ was written after a band member had a frustrating time at work and references the 1986 50-day strike in response to an Industrial Relations Commission (now known as the Fair Work Commission) decision that led to hundreds of nurses downgraded into lower classifications, lower pay and qualifications allowances removed.
But while the band are inspired by their profession, they are careful to separate both worlds.
‘It’s a hobby and that’s what we love, but realistically we’ve got to work as well. We’re just trying to find a nice balance between the two.’