Acting Deputy Director of Nursing
Sydney / Sydney Eye Hospital
“I’ve had so many memorable days from nursing. I trained in London. I remember working in the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. I was looking after a young woman post liver transplant. Pachelbel Cannon was playing in the background , while she was receiving a blood transfusion, and she was on a ventilator. I just stood there and thought ‘Oh my god, what a surreal experience’, I couldn’t believe I could do that.
I’m originally from Ireland and I migrated to Australia in my mid-20s. Ireland was very depressed at the time and there were little or no options for nurses. My neighbours in Ireland had a son living in Victoria, and when I was a young child he came back with stories, photographs and slides of Australia. I thought I might go there one day. London was expensive and I didn’t really want to stay there, plus, generations of my mum’s family were on the first fleet so there was a bit of a pull.
In the first few years I travelled for 9 months around Australia and worked on the Edward River indigenous reserve on the Gulf of Carpentaria. The nearest doctor was an hour and a half by plane, so if something happened you were it. We had to radio into a doctor service in the Territory every day. There were big alcohol issues. We had very little equipment, so it really required me to think on my feet, and get back to my basic training. I remember thinking, ‘if I can handle this, I can handle anything’.”