Careers in Nursing: An Interview with Nurse Lucy Osborn11 May 2018
It feels like just about everybody knows a nurse, whether it’s a friend, a relative, or themselves, but do we actually know what it’s like? Long nights, thinking on your feet, and for Lucy Osborn, a love affair with her bed after a gruelling shift. I spoke to Lucy ahead of International Nurses Day about her experiences and discovered what we might not know about this time-honoured profession.
While each person’s journey through their career pathway is unique, Lucy’s interest in healthcare has not come out of left field, with “lots of people in the family that are doctors, occupational therapists and nurses”, including both her mother and sister who have worked, or work, as emergency nurses. Lucy’s decision to study nursing was certainly influenced by her family, but her desire to find a career where she can always keep learning has led her to forge her own path. From leaving her home town of Hobart in Tasmania, to studying nursing in Adelaide, to where she is working currently in neonatal care at the Royal Children’s Hospital. She was also invited to speak at the South Pacific Nurses forum in the Cooke Islands in 2016.
While thoughts of nursing may conjure up images of hospitals and heart-wrenching episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (though Lucy tells me Scrubs is more true to life), she has a far more insightful take on her career. When asked whether nursing fulfills her aforementioned desire to keep learning, her response is a clear indicator of her ethos: “Nursing doesn’t encourage you to keep learning. It forces you to because healthcare is always changing.” Lucy further explains that her role requires planned study days and regularly attending seminars to provide the best care. “If you are planning to work in ICU you need to have a postgraduate, whether it’s a diploma or a certificate. It’s very, very hard to climb ladders without a postgraduate.”
Lucy’s informed opinions and work ethic have ensured climbing ladders is a certainty in her future, yet she explains this career path does not come with the job security that many people may presume. “The amount of people who come out of university as trained nurses, and how little positions there are for them” came as a huge surprise while studying in Adelaide, which was the reason that she for applied to work in Melbourne in the first place.
And this certainly isn’t the only misconception Lucy wants cleared up. On the role of nurses, she says, “There are people that think we are servants to doctors, and then you’ve got people that think we’re angels. I don’t think either of them are at all correct. I think the biggest thing nurses are responsible for is patient advocacy—we need to be there for them when sometimes the quickest and easiest decision might not be the right one.”
So while people may have an idea of what a nurse should be, Lucy doesn’t think there is a straightforward prototype. “I definitely don’t think it needs to be a woman, and the area you end up working in really depends on your personality. My sister is going to kill me for saying this, but I’m more of a people person so I’m better in the intensive care situation where I spend more time with the patient and family, whereas my sister is a bit more straight-to-the-point and wants to see the patient well and out of the department as soon as possible. There is definitely a time and a place for a person that can really distance themselves from the patient.”
While there are certainly many avenues that nursing can take you down, Lucy has some valuable advice for anyone considering a healthcare profession. “The thing I find myself saying a lot, because nursing is so personal, is to have confidence in yourself. We’re trained at university to a very high standard so practise what you know and if you don’t know, ask.”
And finally—the information you have all been waiting for—what does Lucy think a nurse can’t live without? “If I could do a survey I guarantee 90 per cent of nurses would say coffee. I could definitely live without coffee, but after a 12-hour shift all I want is my bed.”