Congratulations to Irene Schmutz, 2018 winner of the Gayle Woodford Memorial Scholarship, jointly sponsored by CRANAplus and the Centre for Remote Health. The scholarship covers all course fees for the Graduate Certificate in Remote Health Practice, offered through Flinders University.
Irene started her nursing degree at 30 in Switzerland, where she worked predominantly in mental health. For the past 5 years she has lived and worked mainly in regional and remote Western Australia in areas with a high Indigenous population, together with her family including three children.
After starting off at the Single Nurse Post in a small Aboriginal Community in the Karlamilyi National Park in the Western Desert, she moved to a nearby regional town to work in the Hospital and to volunteer as an Ambulance Officer.
“I’ve learnt a lot about culture”, says Irene. “I like to sit down at a house, garden or shop with people and hear stories and learn about the different world views we have”.
Sometimes Irene works in the Art Gallery and Studio where she is able to see paintings develop into landscape canvases. “I like to see people keeping their health and connecting to country through this great way of expression”, she says.
Irene has built connection, trust and knowledge in Martu Country and wants to continue working in close collaboration with other service providers to improve insight into healthy living and managing disease.
She says “I see children growing into teenagers and adults and the problems of chronic disease, alcohol, nutrition and mental health circling its rounds.
“I am aware it’s not going to change quickly and that I am just a little drop of initiative in a hot vast desert, but with a positive outlook to improve little by little, and a great trust in the ability of the people’s own powers.
“I like to empower people to take an active part in their health management and therefore need to provide education and support not only in the Clinic but also in their home”.
Irene has learned a lot about Remote Area Nursing from her experience gained at the Nursing Post, Hospital and Ambulance service. Committed to her own professional development in order to provide quality service to patients she decided to further her studies in this area, hence her application for the scholarship.
“In the next 12 months I want to upskill through my studies and also with specialist workshops.
“I want to go remote with a bigger knowledge than when I first started, to provide better support”, says Irene.
Irene started her Graduate Certificate in Remote Health Practice at the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs last semester and is looking forward to the next 3 modules.