Meet Sally, our Registered Nurse with a varied career path in renal health

We spoke with our Registered Nurse, Sally, who works in our Broome Renal Health Centre. Sally shares how she’s experienced clinical and non-clinical roles in a number of locations, and what she loves about working for Kimberley Renal Services (KRS).

Our Registered Nurse Sally has had a wide and varied career path. After beginning her training and career journey in Adelaide, she has worked in various clinical and non-clinical roles in Sydney, Alice Springs, Cairns, and is now based in the Broome Renal Health Centre.

Initially working in a busy hospital with many units, Sally gained exposure to renal health, which sparked her interest in completing her graduate certificate in the field. She continued her training by exploring different positions in renal health, and now works for Kimberley Renal Service (KRS) part-time as a registered nurse doing clinical care.

“Renal has taken me on a great journey. Fast-paced acute care can make it difficult to build relationships with people and communities. I enjoy clinical care because I get to connect with people. After working in a non-clinical role in the hospital for a number of years, I missed clinical work and decided to return.”

Initially, Sally moved to Broome (a place she’d always wanted to travel to!) to fill a relief position. After exploring a variety of positions in other locations, she returned to settle in Broome.

“In my role, you get to know the patients from across the Kimberley and understand what’s happening in their lives at home. I feel lucky to hear stories about their connection to country and understand more about the region from our first people.” 

“I love working in Aboriginal health and for an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation. This ensures we maintain community engagement, and our healthcare delivery and programs are culturally appropriate. The people at KAMS are great. I love working in a busy unit, supporting patients and their families, and being part of a team. Clinical work is interesting and enjoyable. Shift work also supports my lifestyle and gives me variety. 

There are ten dialysis machines in Sally’s units and the team operates in three shifts per day.

“On a typical day, I’ll see four patients. In addition to setting them up on dialysis, I take the time to understand what’s happening in their lives, families and home. It’s great seeing the same patients each week; it’s like a family. We have a lot of great conversations and rapport between patients and staff. Out-patient treatment means we get to send people home in a good condition.”

Delivering culturally appropriate healthcare

Sally understands people’s strong connection to country, family and community. Her patient’s health and dialysis requirements can make it difficult for them to travel home for important cultural events. During her time at Broome Renal Health Centre, Sally has had the opportunity to travel to Fitzroy Crossing to support patients to attend these events in their community 

“I travelled on the dialysis bus, allowing people to receive dialysis at home in Bidyadanga. They were long days, but enjoyable. Over the years, I’ve developed cultural knowledge about people’s connection to country. I enjoy my job because there’s always more to learn. I love hearing people’s stories and working with patients. It’s amazing for me to work with people who are so generous in sharing their stories and even teaching me some language.”

“KAMS is a family and community-centred organisation, which makes it a great place to work. Working for an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation is fantastic. Our patients feel happy and comfortable receiving culturally appropriate care, focused on their specific needs.”

Professional development opportunities at KAMS

For people working at KRS, there are opportunities to gain experience by doing relief work across the Kimberley and exploring a variety of roles. Some of our roles at KRS include pre-dialysis nurses, renal access nurses, chronic disease management roles, transplant coordinators, chronic kidney disease educator roles, Aboriginal Health Workers and a variety of other roles.

“Our healthcare workers are brilliant. I have the opportunity to work with an amazing Aboriginal Health Worker and this enriches our work. They understand family connections, which is great for patients. I receive the support I need and am constantly learning.”

Sally has enjoyed acting in a number of different roles in renal healthcare. Now, she’s excited about her return to clinical work, deepening her skills in clinical care, and being part of a team with her own caseload. There are always new medication and treatment developments in dialysis for her to learn about and stay up to date. She’s also enthusiastic about getting to know patients and their families. The unit has 52 patients, so there are many people to get to know.

“I enjoy taking a holistic approach to nursing. It can be taxing for people to be on dialysis, as the kidney performs many roles in the body; dialysis is only part of treatment. Patients must also take medication, manage fluid intake and eat a certain diet. So understanding that and checking in on their health as a whole is important too.”

One of her favourite memories at KAMS was a patient fishing trip at Crab Creek. 

“Staff, dieticians and other local health professionals arranged for disability clients to access the beach. We caught fish and had a cook up with damper. It was such a great bunch of people and we really enjoyed spending time with the patients. Many of them live away from home to access healthcare. You learn a lot by listening to their stories.” 

At KAMS, our people support and care for one another, at work and beyond.

“You get to know people well. We all have our ups and downs, and our workplace is sensitive to that. We support each other through hard times and get through things together. It’s great to be part of a supportive workplace that takes things into consideration.”

Outside work, Sally’s life revolves around her family. Working three days per week provides her with great work-life balance and the ability to take her son to his many extracurricular activities (gymnastics, swimming, dirt biking and more!). They enjoy fishing, camping, crabbing and kayaking.

 “There are so many places to explore and outdoor activities to enjoy here. There’s always something going on, like music festivals and other events. My family and I often start our days at the beach.”

© 2021 Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services