Warrnambool Hospital discharge support liaison nurse Erin Klose has a message for nursing students looking for a graduate place: consider going regional.
And another one for all ANMF members: become a Job Rep!
Having grown up in Port Fairy, Erin split her graduate year between Timboon Hospital and Warrnambool Hospital, and is well-qualified to spruik the regional experience.
What she loved about her graduate year at regional hospitals was the variety.
‘You go on an acute ward and it’s not a cardiac unit or a stroke unit or a neuro unit – you could have a mix of everyone on the ward, so that I found interesting,’ she said.
‘Being in Timboon, there was a gas plant being built off the coast at Port Campbell and we received some (patients with) workplace injuries, so we would have to stabilise a person and fly them out.
‘So that in itself was an awesome experience as a grad nurse, considering I was expecting to be looking after nursing home placement people, being a small regional hospital.
‘But through their accident and emergency, you just didn’t know what you were going to see. As a grad I found that opened my eyes to what comes through the regional hospitals and what they need to do to ship them out and get them to a facility where they need to be.’
Nurses in regional hospitals can link in with a broad range of hospital and community-based programs post-discharge, which support patients in their recovery and offer opportunities for career variety.
There’s also the satisfaction of knowing that the patients you are caring for are the people in your community.
‘The regionals have, in my opinion, more of a focus on that community as a whole…you get to know the patients and their families…
‘I’ve had quite a few where you treat the parents and then their children come through as adults and they remember you. It’s a nice environment.’
The Klose clan and the 2011–12 EBA campaign
The community supported the Warrnambool Hospital nurses and midwives during the 2011–12 EBA campaign, in which ANMF members fought to keep nurse/midwife: patient ratios, taking the most significant industrial action since the 1986 50-day strike.
Erin signed up as a Job Rep at the tail-end of the campaign in 2012, as soon as she returned from maternity leave. While on leave, Erin attended EBA meetings with her newborn baby and three-year-old daughter, both dressed in ANMF red.
‘There was a tent on the corner that we were doing education in and we had a mat in there and there were three or four little babies and children playing in there. It was a big family affair in the end,’ she says.
Unionism is in the blood: Erin’s father was a rep for the NUW at his workplace, Glaxo (now Glaxo Smith Kline), and Erin signed up as a union member as soon as she started working as an industrial cleaner while studying nursing.
Erin’s first experience of seeing Job Reps in action was a year in to her nursing career, during the 2007 enterprise agreement campaign, when Job Reps Terry Swanson and Jenny Charles visited her ward to explain union members’ rights around bargaining and taking protected industrial action.
‘They were empowering us as a group, saying that this was protected industrial action and letting us know our role. They told us that if you were an ANMF member you’d be supported by the ANMF if you decided to take action,’ Erin recalls.
Being a Job Rep has improved her confidence tenfold, Erin says, and since signing up as a Job Rep, she has assumed leadership positions, as an ANUM in her previous role as a rehabilitation nurse, and now as a team leader.
She returns to Warrnambool from the Delegates Conference and other ANMF events ‘with a puffed- up chest’, a confidence born of modelling herself on more experienced Job Reps and knowing she is representing the biggest union in Australia.
‘I get so pumped and motivated. I want everyone to know how fun and how great it is to be a Job Rep.’