The privilege of being a Remote Area Nurse

Angelique Richards was always interested in Indigenous health and a placement during her postgraduate studies allowed her to live that dream. During her Remote Health Practice (RHP) postgraduate studies with the Centre for Remote Health, Angelique completed a placement at Lake Nash in the Northern Territory’s Barkly Region. She then secured a permanent position as a Remote Area Nurse (RAN) at Lake Nash and has remained living and working in the NT ever since.

Angelique became interested in Indigenous health when she was at university, working mainly in community health on a casual basis while raising her five children. ‘I knew I wanted to travel to the NT and work as a RAN, but I had to bide my time until my youngest child turned 18, and when I felt ok about leaving home’, she says.

‘I didn’t know how to become a RAN nor anything about Indigenous health, apart from the heavy burden of chronic disease’, says Angelique. She visited Alice Springs for the first time in 2013 after discovering and enrolling in the Flinders University Graduate Certificate in Remote Health Practice (RHP) course at the Centre for Remote Health.

Angelique’s first placement was at Alpurrurulam (Lake Nash), a small remote Indigenous community about eight hours north east of Alice Springs. ‘I was so excited to put into practice what I had learnt in the course, including the art of listening to Indigenous people, giving people time to answer my questions, being culturally aware and essentially the components of the RAN Model of Consultation. My placement was everything I had hoped it would be’, she says.

Whilst completing the RHP course, Angelique obtained a position as a RAN at Lake Nash, excited to return to the community where she had undertaken her placement. One of the desirable criteria was undertaking or willingness to undertake the RHP course.

Angelique has now worked in the NT as a RAN for six years and is now back at Lake Nash as the Health Centre Manager. ‘I feel extremely privileged to be able to live and work with the residents of Lake Nash. They were very happy when I returned to work with them as they, like most people, enjoy and benefit from continuity of care and a familiar face’, she says.

Angelique finishes with, ‘I have seen, learnt and done the most amazing things in nursing as a RAN and I credit this to the preparation and knowledge I gained from the Graduate Certificate in Remote Health Practice’.

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