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Aziza Sahib - Registered Nurse

Aziza Sahib - Nurse

For the longest time, Aziza dreamed of becoming a nurse. She knew she one day wanted to volunteer in Africa and help those who couldn't help themselves.

After finishing school she worked in finance and industrial relations for a few years. Although her career progressed quite well, she was left with a sense of feeling unfulfilled. "I remember binge watching ‘Scrubs’ one evening when I recalled my childhood dream." The rest, as they say, is history...  

What is your current role?

I presently work for South Western Sydney Local Health District. I have two roles, one at Liverpool Hospital in the Operating Theatres as a Registered Nurse, and the other as a School Immunisation Nurse for the Public Health Unit.

What does your role involve? 

With reference to my role within the Operating Theatres, I am presently an instrument/circulating nurse. This role requires me to scrub and/or scout for surgical procedures within any designated speciality (such as GeneraI, Emergency/Trauma, Plastics, ENT, Orthopedics, and etc). I am passionate Vascular and Upper GI surgery.

What steps did you have to take to get a role with the government?

During my final year of placement, I applied to NSW Health New Graduate Nursing Program (now known as Transition to Professional Practice – Graduate Nursing and Midwifery). I was required to complete a comprehensive selection criteria to secure an interview with my nominated hospital.  

What did you study to become a nurse? 

To get into nursing I completed a Fast-Tracked Bachelor of Nursing course, offered by the University of Tasmania, Darlinghurst Campus (in Sydney).  The course was delivered over two intensive years, ensuring graduates gained all the clinical skills required to be deemed a competent Registered Nurse. 
Following this, I also completed a Graduate Certificate in Acute Care Nursing (Perioperative) through the University of New England. This allowed me to specialise in Perioperative Nursing, furthering my passion in my career. 

Tell us about your volunteer trip to Africa and what a typical day at looked like for you...

Earlier this year I travelled to Cameroon, Africa; and volunteered with the Mercy Ships as an Operating Room (OR) Nurse. This volunteer trip was an amazing experience, and allowed me to help those who were truly in need. I was a part of an international team who treated Cameroonians with various debilitating conditions, allowing them to return to functionality and care for those in their family and larger community.

A typical day commenced at 6:30am with breakfast, followed by morning meetings before the attending work at 8:00am. At this point, the OR nurses would be allocated to a surgical list for the day, where we were required to scrub/scout for the surgical procedures booked for the day. These procedures could last between one to four hours, which allowed us to stop for a brief lunch, before returning to work until the evening.

On completion of the surgical list, we would clean and restock the OR before going to dinner. This would be followed by spending time with friends on the boat, talking and playing with patients on the wards, or evening outings. There were evenings where I would be on-call, and was required to stay on the boat.

Free-time on the weekends allowed the volunteers to explore Douala (locations that were cleared by security), visit the local orphanage, attend the Hope Centre (offsite hospital) etc. There were weekly events such as the Celebration of Sight (for patients who had cataract surgery) and the Dress Ceremony (for Women who had obstetric and gynaecological surgery).

What did you want to be when you were younger?

Ever since I was little, I always dreamed of becoming a nurse, and helping those in need (as cliché as that sounds).

What was your first job and what do you think it taught you?

My first role was working for Credit Corp Group as a Customer Relationship Manager.

My first nursing role was for the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, as a Donor Services Nursing Assistant (DSNA). This role allowed me to interview blood donors, assist during their donation and help during their recovery. This role taught me the skills required to work in a clinical setting, time management, and interpersonal skills.

Operating Theatre

What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you in your career?

The most interesting thing that has happened to me in my career, was a surgical procedure. I had the privilege of scrubbing for an organ donation procedure (kidney donation) for a patient that was acutely unwell. This patient had been waiting for a donor match for a considerable period of time, with no relatives being deemed appropriate.

The surgical case went smoothly, and I was able to see the transplant carried out in its entirety. I was later informed by the surgical team, that the patient was on the path to making a full recovery.

Name the best and worst parts of being a nurse

There are many highlights of being a nurse. My personal highlights include caring for patients who are acutely unwell, or unable to care for themselves. I also enjoy working with children at school clinics, by providing immunisations and ensuring their health as they grow older.

Some of the challenges that are faced by all nurses include stress and burnout. This can sometimes occur due to long shifts, and heavy workloads. It is important that as a young and budding nurse that you ensure you have a good support network of family and friends, coupled with restful down time allowing you to unwind. 

What’s the most important career tip someone has given you?

Some key career tips that I have found useful include:

  • Time Management – this will begin early in your undergraduate study, and last well into your professional nursing career. Ensure that you have enough time to get everything done, while still looking after yourself
  • Patience and Perseverance – things will become overwhelming from time to time, but you must be gentle with yourself
  • Smile – you can lift anyone’s spirit, by just smiling.
  • When applying for any government roles, use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) – really important for situation-based questions on the selection criteria.

What career advice do you wish someone had given you when you finished high school?

Persevere, and stay true to yourself. There is always a way to get to where you want to be in life. 

What qualities and skills should people have if they want work in nursing and health?

Clinical skills are developed throughout your studies on an undergraduate level. This includes taking accurate observations, assisting with activities of daily living and etc.
Interpersonal skills are paramount. As a nurse, we are encouraged to provide holistic care to our patients during their recovery. It is therefore important, that we treat everyone with the utmost respect that they deserve, and not just their diagnosis. You will find that you sometimes encounter patients during the most difficult stages of their life, so developing rapport is important.

Where do people have to start become a registered nurse and what is the standard salary?

To begin the exciting adventure of becoming a registered nurse, you should start by finding a Bachelor of Nursing course deemed appropriate by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA). Depending on the university, there are various entry requirements from ATAR’s to Mature Aged Entry, as well as modes of delivery.

As a First Year Registered Nurse under NSW Health, the minimum wage commences at $60,840 ($1,170 per week). This differs from the private sector, where wages can sometimes be lower (from my experience).

Name a career highlight

Earlier this year, I was invited by DonateLife and the Department of Health in WA to attend a Perioperative Nurses course in Organ Donation and Retrieval. It was during this one-day intensive course that I learned valuable clinical skills, while also meeting the family of an organ donor, and donation recipient.

This has also been coupled with my volunteer trip to Africa, aboard the Mercy Ships.

What’s next for you?

I have been invited by Doctors Assisting in South-Pacific Islands (DAISI) to volunteer in the Solomon Islands for a two-week placement in May 2018. There, I will form part of a colorectal surgical team to care for patients at no cost.

I have been requested to return to Mercy Ships to assist in their next field placement in Guinea, Africa. 

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