Nursing award finalists adapt to healthcare changes in Peel

Nursing is a challenging, noble, yet often underappreciated job, but two local nurses from the Peel Health Campus (PHC) are getting their time in the sun as nominees for the WA Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards.

Both ladies are one of only three nominees in their category across the state: clinical services director Di Barr is up for the excellence in leadership award, and nurse Robyn Bell was nominated for excellence in enrolled nursing.

Ms Bell said she first took an interest in nursing after her brother experienced a reaction to eucalyptus oil as a child, and had to be resuscitated. 

“I was only young then, and it left a big imprint on me. He’s fine now, but at the time, when you’re young, it’s devastating,” Ms Bell said. 

Ms Barr has been a nurse since she began in an emergency department in Scotland in the ‘80’s, and has seen the profession evolve over the years.

“The job is more demanding, and more complex, and hence the need for ongoing training,” Ms Barr said.

“I’ve been a clinician, I’ve been an educator, I’ve been a manager… for me it’s been an absolute privilege.

“Education is more essential than ever… the mental health issues and aged care issues are changing, people are living longer which is fantastic but they need care, and their carers need care, so nursing has a high demand and a quick pace.”

For Ms Barr, this is why Ms Bell stands out as an enrolled nurse.

“Robyn takes it to the next level because she really has committed to professional development and education, so provides a really contemporary practice,” Ms Barr said.

Ms Bell said though nursing had changed a lot since she began, it had changed for the better.

“There’s a lot to learn, you can’t relax and say ‘I’ve finished my training, that’s it’,” she said.

“You just have to keep on going, because there’s just so many changes… every day is a learning curve, no day is ever the same.”

The two colleagues agreed that a large part of their role as nurses, aside from physical care, was providing patients with support and advocacy, helping them to navigate an often complex health system.​

“Nursing is much more about the emotional than the technical,” Ms Bell said.

The awards will be announced at the Perth Convention Centre on May 6.

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