Fiona's Story

I’m so excited to hear about the scholarship fund for St Vincent’s nurses.

What an amazing opportunity – it’s going to be nothing short of life changing for nurses like me. When I think about the last few years, I think probably the hardest part for everyone was the isolation. Everyone was really struggling. We were pushing ourselves to our physical limits with no relief in sight.

The work took an incredible toll on our bodies. We were constantly dehydrated, our faces were marked and covered in sores from wearing N95 masks for hours.

We were all in isolation just like the rest of the public, and it was a difficult, lonely time. Sometimes going into work was all we had to do, so we kept on doing it. Understaffing placed pressure on us all. The sense of burnout was always looming, but at the same time we didn’t want to let the team down.

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“As a nurse, my biggest joy is not only helping patients directly, but having a positive impact in my community.” - Fiona Latten, Emergency Department Nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne 

I had recently been in a motorbike accident. Suddenly, I was the one lying in the hospital bed with no control. I was the one having to wait, feeling that frustration. I was still recovering myself when we were hit with the worst of COVID-19. It was challenging, to say the least, but I pushed through. That experience of being in an ER hospital bed myself, made me realise how crucial nurses are to a person’s recovery. I came back to work with an even bigger desire to give exceptional care to every patient, no matter what. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to help people at their most vulnerable.

When someone comes into the ER, I need to have the confidence to make a snap decision about what the right treatment is for them. When I’m able to do that, to reassure them that they’re not alone, that I’m going to be with them on their journey – that’s an amazing feeling. It’s those moments that made it possible to get through the worst of COVID-19.

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Even with a mask, and all our PPE on, we were still able to make a genuine connection to patients. That made it all worthwhile.

This is why nurse education is so important. Because I’d hope that when people are at their most vulnerable, I’m at my best, so they can get the best care. I can’t do that without a postgraduate degree. Patient care is ever evolving, and I need to stay at the forefront. So I need training. I need education.

Sometimes, taking on postgraduate study requires cutting down our hours to allow time for study. That means that we’re taking a pay cut so we can learn to be a better nurse.

A scholarship would be a huge relief. It would mean we could focus fully on learning what we need to give better care.

Scholarships would mean less struggling and less burnout. It would equip our nurses to do more, so our whole workforce would be stronger.

After my accident, I’ll never be able to physically work full time again. That’s out of my control. But I can continue my education, become better equipped to offer the best care possible to all my patients. I can make a difference in the lives of my patients.

As a nurse, my biggest joy is not only helping patients directly, but having a positive impact in my community.

Every time I treat someone, I’m not just supporting that one person; I’m supporting their family, their friends, their colleagues – everyone who cares about them.

It’s why I do what I do. So when you support a nurse like me to be the best they can be, you are lifting up the entire community.

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