Nursing student Braden: on making a difference and his placement in Central Australia

Braden Winders is a 25-year-old nursing student from Flagstaff Hill in South Australia, self-described as “lovable, down-to-earth, motivated, open-minded, respectful, empathetic and introverted.”

Those characteristics shine through when he speaks about experiences in his nursing placements in Central Australia. The work and the new learning opportunities he accessed have been incredibly valuable when shaping his future career as a nurse.

Braden’s first placement is a month with the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) which focuses on Aboriginal primary health care. Braden started in the Santa Teresa clinic and now he is at the Larapinta clinic (both based in communities around Alice Springs). His second one-month placement will be at the Hospital in Tennant Creek.

It has been a steep learning curve, as before his move to the Red Centre, he had very little interaction and awareness of Indigenous culture. “Prior to coming to Alice Springs, I had no exposure to Aboriginal people, culture or health inequities. Through my studies at Flinders University and learning about social determinants and discrepancies in health outcomes, I came to realise it would be unacceptable for me to try and uphold the values and morals I want to have as a nurse without exposing myself to the realities of Aboriginal health.”

It has also been valuable in his education to access a variety of free short courses through the Flinders’ Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs. An example is an Introduction to Central Australian Aboriginal Cultures and Context course, offered to him and other placement students upon their arrival to Central Australia. Equipped with theory knowledge, Braden was then able to expand on it through his hands-on experience at one of the placement clinics.

“Joining the team at Larapinta clinic has been an incredible way to achieve a greater understanding of health issues affecting Aboriginal Australians. The staff I have been working with – nurses, doctors, allied health practitioners – have been a tremendous and inspiring source of knowledge. The clinic made it very clear from day one that they wanted students to take charge of their own learning, to choose what they want to do and what they want to learn, and the staff will happily accommodate them. I have tried to take advantage of this opportunity each day”.

One experience in particular will stay with him for many months to come. “The other day, I realised I have had minimal experience working with children, and fortunately the paediatric health nurse was working and invited me to take part in the consult. Two kids I worked with will struck in my mind for a long time. Two lovely, happy four-year and two-year-old sisters and all they wanted to do during the consult was play and explore. They loved my beard and seemed fascinated by it! This made their mum and the nurse laugh. The nurse was even joking that I would be a great tool she could use to distract the girls during their examination. I must have done a good job because neither of the girls cried or complained, to everyone’s surprise!”

Braden (far right) with his colleagues in Central Australia.

Braden feels that overall, his placement experience has been extremely useful and important in allowing him to grow and mature as a healthcare professional. He believes that it has been very valuable in his continuous life-long dedication to learning and self-improvement.

“I feel like my experience of working with Indigenous families has opened my heart more and made me more comfortable and eager to work with paediatric patients in a health setting,” says Braden. “I am also making life-long connections on this placement, particularly with the brilliant and passionate nursing and allied health students I have come up to the NT with.”

A placement in Alice Springs has certainly helped him on this journey and allowed him to take a leap forward in pursuit of that goal. “When I heard of the NT placement opportunity, I knew I would grow more and push my comfort zone out much further than anything else I have ever done before. I wish to be a competent nurse who is confident in myself and my skills and this placement seemed like a great step towards this”.

When asked if he would come back to work as a nurse in the NT, Braden says: “I absolutely would. It has been such a rewarding experience so far, and I feel like there is so much room to do a lot of good while working as a nurse here.”

To find out more about the short courses and placement opportunities available through Flinders Rural & Remote Health NT visit the Centre for Remote health website for more details and contact the Flinders NT RIPPL team.

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Centre for Remote Health (CRH) Flinders NT Remote and Rural Interprofessional Placement Learning NT (RIPPL NT)