Date: December 2022
University: University of Queensland
Field of Study: Nursing
At SQRH, we love a good success story. So when we heard that UQ nursing graduate Emily Ebbage-Miller landed a position in Stanthorpe after completing her university placements in the small town, we asked her to sit down with us and share her experiences that led to this monumental moment.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BE A NURSE?
“I grew up in Emerald in Central Queensland and originally I wanted to be a doctor, so all throughout high school I did every subject to get into medicine. I got into biomedical science at UQ with a scholarship and I thought ‘great I’ve hit the jackpot’. I did about a year and a half and I hated it. So I decided I would apply for nursing and if I got in, I would swap, and I did! I was a little bit unsure and I was asking myself if I had made the right decision. And I did my first placement with SQRH in Toowoomba where every day was something different. We were in the emergency department one day, we were in a nursing home one day, then in the radiation clinic, and doing midwifery outreach, and I just fell in love. I knew I had made the right choice getting into nursing. And also it sparked a little bit of excitement with rural healthcare as well. It was a really good taste of nursing because I got to see how broad it could be.”
WHERE DID YOU HEAD TO FOR YOUR NEXT PLACEMENT?
“Last year we were asked to preference where we would like to go in terms of clinical areas, such as ED, ICU, general meds. And then if you wanted to go rural, you had to write an application, which I did, saying how much I wanted to go. I originally wanted to go to Longreach but I got Stanthorpe. And I absolutely loved it. The people were amazing. The hospital was amazing. I got to go to the acute ward, as well as the emergency department and the operating theatre. So I got to do three or four clinical areas at once, which was really great.
I think it was a blessing in disguise I got Stanthorpe and not Longreach because it ended up being that I did another placement out there and then I applied for a job and got it!”
HOW DID YOU FIND THE LENGTH OF THE PLACEMENT?
“My first placement was 320 hours (eight weeks), then I wasn’t even home a week and I got an offer to go back again for another placement this semester for 240 hours (seven weeks).”
I found the longer placements much more beneficial because you also get a preceptor which you form a really strong relationship with and you follow them essentially for all of our shifts. They solidify your skills and knowledge whilst you’re out there with the one person, rather than chopping and changing a whole bunch of different nurses. The longer placements are definitely better than the shorter ones.”
DID YOU EVER THINK THAT YOU WOULD END UP GOING RURAL ONCE YOU GRADUATED?
“I did. Once I did my first placement in Toowoomba, I always had a bit of an appeal for rural nursing. And then definitely, once I did my first placement in Stanthorpe. It got to applying for grad positions and there was no question about whether I wanted to go rural or not, it was just a question of where.”
WHAT IS THE APPEAL FOR GOING RURAL?
“I think the people for one. The community is very close and everyone is there to support you. It’s a lot closer than a big metro hospital. And also that you just get to go through so many clinical areas. And your skillset is just huge, it’s not pigeonholed in one area. You get to learn everything. That was the most exciting thing for me, was getting to experience all the different areas. There were endless opportunities.”
HOW WAS THE RURAL EXPERIENCE FOR YOU PERSONALLY?
“My most recent placement out there was probably the best one because I already knew people from being out there the first time. I got to be part of the volleyball team and we all went out to the races. We also went camping and hiking at Girraween National Park, and went to the Stanthorpe Apple and Grape Harvest Festival on one of the first weekends. I think living in the quarters also made it more fun because there were nurses and doctors and other students out there that wanted to experience the town and what it had to offer. So anytime anyone had a day off, you were planning what we were going to do next.”
TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW GRAD POSITION
“Mid this year, we had to apply for graduate positions, and I currently work at a Brisbane hospital as a USiN (Undergraduate Student in Nursing). Everyone kind of expected me to stay on and work on the ward I was on, and it was hard to tell them I was applying to go rural to Stanthorpe.
But I threw everything at it, my application was all about saying ‘please take me’. So I went through the interview process while I was on my second placement there. Which was nice because there were familiar faces on the interview panel.
And then after a week of being back in Brisbane, I was offered the graduate position there. And they only take two graduates a year and they had around 200 applicants, so I was very happy.
I start on March 13 next year and it will be for a year. I will go through my orientation for that first week and I think I will live in the quarters for a little while which will be the most fun part. This will help me to settle in and not stress about having to relocate totally.”
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO STUDENTS CONSIDERING GOING RURAL?
“Definitely give it a shot. I think people don’t really know what opportunities it does have to offer. You get to go in the acute ward, the emergency department and the operating theatre. What other grad would ever get to do that? Whether it is for a graduate position as a nurse or on placement, it just opens up your scope and your experience so much. So I definitely wouldn’t knock it back, I would give it a go. Even if it was just for a small placement, I think they would even get to see what clinical area they like in a metro setting, because you get to experience so much out there.”
From Toowoomba to Charleville, Kingaroy to Goondiwindi, our students’ complete rural placements all over regional, rural, and remote Southern Queensland (across more than 400,000 square kilometres).
Learn first-hand from students, just like yourself, about their experience going on a rural placement, and why it’s an experience like no other!