Hi, my name is Haydn Van Lochem. I am 33 yrs old and live in Perth, Western Australia. I am a registered nurse and have been nursing for ten years. My academic achievements include, Bachelor degree in Nursing and Rural Health practice, completed through Monash University.
Upon completion of my nursing degree I pursued a career and further studies in Emergency nursing. This led me to completing a postgraduate certificate in Emergency nursing.
I have worked across a broad range of emergency nursing settings from major metropolitan tertiary hospitals to regional and rural settings. Having worked within the hospital setting for seven to eight years I decided on a change.
My first taste of locum work was a six-week contract at Balgo/Billiluna Aboriginal community. Located 300kms south of Halls Creek on the edge of the Tanami desert in northern Western Australia. This contract was an eye opener and tested my skills to the ultimate level.
After enjoying the exposure to a totally different work setting, I was hooked on the idea of locum work.
Returning back to the big smoke of Perth, a work opportunity presented itself, casual nursing work on various mine sites. All I needed was my occupational health and safety, drug and alcohol-screening certificate. Those tasks done, high visibility uniform and safety boots on and off to the mines we go.
While completing an agency contract in northern Western Australia I was fortunate enough to meet a fellow NAHRLS nurse who was completing a contract at the same hospital. The NAHRLS nurse that I met at the time was more than happy to explain about NAHRLS and the types of contracts, incentives and the fabulous staff associated with the program. The most appealing aspect, besides getting the opportunity to work all over Australia, was the fact that NAHRLS provided short-term contracts (usually 2 weeks). This would enabled me to achieve the work life balance I was looking for.
When I returned home from my contract I looked up NAHRLS on the Internet, clicked the apply button and started the credentialing process. The application process was extensive but relatively user friendly. Having completed the process and met other NAHRLS locums, the credentialing process is indicative of the caliber of the staff provided by NAHRLS to our rural and remote health sector.
Like any locum work there are periods of peaks and troughs, dates that don’t line up and prior commitments. However, generally speaking, getting locum contracts through NAHRLS is a streamlined process.
Accommodation, travel and personalised service for each locum contract seem to be the normal high standard provided by the administration and travel logistics staff at NAHRLS headquarters.
People often ask me;
Obviously when I mention that I work all over Australia people will often ask where? I have worked from Flinders Island off the North East Coast of Tasmania to Lombadina Community on the North West Coast of Australia and most places in between.
I have worked in small towns with rolling green hills and dairy cows to barren dry towns with wheat crops blowing in the wind. Towns with burnt out old pubs and boarded up shops indicating the passing of an era and times that where once prosperous before long haul freight highway bypasses and air travel became the norm. I have worked in one hundred year old heritage listed hospitals, wondering if the walls could only talk, what stories they would be able to recite.
I have been fortunate enough to go pig hunting and opal mining in outback Queensland (invited by a patient to stay with his family on their opal lease).
I have seen turtles on the beaches and kangaroo’s with their legs poking out of the ground, the rest covered with hot ashes local method of cooking tucker.
I have been invited to culturally significant events such as Aboriginal Men’s business, Christenings and Christmases. I have helped dig people out of bogs, and I must say I have had people help do the same for me when I thought the track ahead looked firmer than it was.
I have seen sunrises and sunsets that words cannot describe, have fished in some magnificent waters, watched local kids swim in rivers that are crocodile infested telling me “it’s alright sister we haven’t seen a croc this week”. The Kimberly around Christmas time is wet season; this is usually fine if you don’t have to fly anywhere.
The Gibb River road is closed during the wet, to get to the communities usually accessed from said road means one must go by air. Wet season usually means the development of tropical lows or cyclones. It fills one with an overflowing sense of confidence when a young man that looks as though he should still be in high school walks out and announces that he will be flying you in the little 5-seater plane out to the community. When a hesitant enquiry is raised about the possible oncoming cyclone, the young pilot as easy as you please just announces, “No worries at all we will just fly around it.”
Needless to say I am here writing this case study today so the young pilot and passengers were either really lucky or in the hands of a competent pilot, I never did ask which.
Do you do it for the money?
Well like a lot of people I have a mortgage to pay, so yes I do work for the money.
Like a lot of people I work for financial remuneration; however I could achieve that working locally. So the reasons and experiences indicated above are the catalyst for roaming the country.
The local employing hospital is responsible for my wage. This is based on the appropriate casual rate for the state in which I am working. On top of this casual wage NAHRLS provides a travel incentive paid for each shift that is worked, also provided by NAHRLS is a daily meals allowance for the duration of the stated contract.
Travel is predominantly a mixture of flights between capital cities and/or regional connecting flights. Travel from airports to site is usually by hire vehicle. Accommodation is either provided by site, in nurse’s quarters. If this accommodation is not available NAHRLS make arrangements for accommodation in self contained type accommodation. Where connecting flights are the following day NAHRLS make arrangements for overnight accommodation.
Throughout my employment with NAHRLS I have found the administration, recruitment advisors, travel logistics and associated personal to be the most professional and approachable organization that I have worked for.
I hope that this valuable service continues for a number of years to come and that I may be fortunate enough to continue to fill locum contracts. If travel, seeing new places, meeting new friends and flexible work hours are appealing then I would whole-heartedly recommend pursuing a locum contract through NAHRLS.
The words of a happy traveler.
Haydn Van Lochem