Gippsland-based registered nurse and midwife Krisdana Lance had a somewhat unorthodox start to her nursing and midwifery career.
‘I had my children very early,’ she says. ‘Then I ended up being a venue manager – the only female manager – for a gaming venue for over 15 years.’
Dealing with problem gamblers, including people whose gambling issues had made them suicidal, had been a regular part of Krisdana’s work, and she frequently found herself becoming more than ‘just the manager’ and taking on a de facto role as friend or counsellor for many visitors and club members.
Caring for members of the community in this way obviously struck a chord, and Krisdana eventually decided to take on the double degree in nursing and midwifery because in these careers ‘you’re always caring for someone’.
‘It was wonderful to show the kids that you can do something later in life; it is achievable.’
As a mature age student, she took pride in being a role model for her children and proving that success is possible at any age. ‘It was wonderful to show the kids that you can do something later in life; it is achievable.’
And while she loved what she was learning in her degree, she felt there was a lack of focus on mental health so in her final year she also took on a diploma in alcohol and other drugs and mental health. ‘That was a big eye opener for me into how many people are living with mental health issues in the community,’ she says. ‘But also, that it’s manageable.’
Combined with her prior experience from the gaming venue, the information she learned in the diploma has helped her in her general day-to-day work as a nurse and midwife, she says, even though she doesn’t work in the mental health or AOD areas. It’s been especially useful when treating vulnerable families, or when faced with situations such as foetal death in utero or instances when a baby passes away.
‘I would recommend everybody to do that diploma,’ she says.
Being a Health and Safety Rep
Krisdana’s interest in self-improvement through education is reflected in her interest in improving the workplace for herself and her colleagues. She was the deputy Health and Safety Rep (HSR) on her ward for a very long time so when the position for a new HSR became available, she immediately put her hand up.
The role doesn’t require much, she says. It might just be about reminding a colleague to report an incident, or letting them know where or how they can report. She gives an example of sharps being left out. ‘It’s easy for someone to say “oh, I’ll just get rid of them” but the fact that they were left out is actually a risk, a near miss, and needs to be reported. So the role is often about educating colleagues to know that we need to report these things.’
This doesn’t take much time away from your normal work, she clarifies. ‘A lot of the time, the first thing you do ask is simply ask: have you spoken to the manager? Sometimes people will ask if I can sit with them while they fill in the RiskMan. It’s almost more like a mentorship, where you guide people where to go and what to do. But primarily it’s about reminding colleagues of the importance of reporting.’
Of course, you can take on more work for yourself if you want. ‘I also do the audits,’ Krisdana says. ‘I get involved with the physical auditing with my manager – we’ll go through everything together, look at what can be fixed, what do we need to do. I also sit on the OHS committee meetings.’
‘I strongly recommend doing the initial HSR five-day training, and the Cert IV, with the ANMF (Vic Branch), because it is tailor made for nursing and midwifery.’
In addition, while doing the HSR initial training course offered by ANMF (Vic Branch), Krisdana became interested in learning more and signed up for the Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety, which she says has been ‘amazing’.
Doing these courses has given her the self-confidence to speak up when required. She gives an example: ‘We needed to have a COVID birthing room. The hospital set one up but didn’t consult with the staff. All of a sudden this room just appeared and it was actually an inappropriate room that created a lot of risks . But having done the course gave me the courage to speak up.’
Doing so led to the room being discontinued and a more appropriate COVID birthing room being established.
Krisdana is as passionate about the HSR role as she is about lifelong learning. HSRs are vital. ‘You shouldn’t be going to work in an unsafe environment; you should feel protected. This is why we need more HSRs.
‘I strongly recommend doing the initial HSR five-day training, and the Cert IV, with the ANMF (Vic Branch),’ she adds, ‘because it is tailor made for nursing and midwifery, which makes it more realistic and inclusive to our needs and what we come across in our day-to-day working life.’