PAEDS Small Talk

IND Mini Series: Katie - The Immunisation Educator Nurse

May 11, 2024 PAEDS Grace & Sarah Season 2 Episode 7
IND Mini Series: Katie - The Immunisation Educator Nurse
PAEDS Small Talk
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PAEDS Small Talk
IND Mini Series: Katie - The Immunisation Educator Nurse
May 11, 2024 Season 2 Episode 7
PAEDS Grace & Sarah

Episode 4 in our mini series for International Women's Day 2024 we are speaking with Katie, who entered into Nursing after having already established herself in a different career, and she has never looked back!

 Katie is an accredited nurse immuniser and a clinical nurse specialist at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.

She's an advocate for trauma informed patient and family centered care and loves to talk about evidence based practice. Katie's worked in healthcare and water and sanitation in Australia, Southeast Asia, and in Pacific Island countries. She's keen to share her passion for immunization and has special interests in needle phobia, vaccination catch ups and international child health

Link to MVEC the NFP she works for and mentions in the podcast here 

Show Notes Transcript

Episode 4 in our mini series for International Women's Day 2024 we are speaking with Katie, who entered into Nursing after having already established herself in a different career, and she has never looked back!

 Katie is an accredited nurse immuniser and a clinical nurse specialist at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.

She's an advocate for trauma informed patient and family centered care and loves to talk about evidence based practice. Katie's worked in healthcare and water and sanitation in Australia, Southeast Asia, and in Pacific Island countries. She's keen to share her passion for immunization and has special interests in needle phobia, vaccination catch ups and international child health

Link to MVEC the NFP she works for and mentions in the podcast here 

  We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and pay respects to Elders past, present, and emerging. We recognize their connection to country and their role in caring for and maintaining country over thousands of years. This PEDS  Small Talk mini series is a little different to our regular programming.

Instead of chatting with parents and children, in light of International Nurses Day on the 12th of May, we're going to speak with five incredible paediatric nurses who will share their journey into becoming children's nurses, and the diverse roles that they all have now.  We discuss the amazing highs and the very real lows of nursing, along with some nurses humour along the way.

So blanket warning for all the body fluids here. These are the stories of five women who consider it a privilege and an honour to have made a profession out of nursing. And we hope you enjoy the special mini series edition of Peed's Small Talk. 



Okay, welcome back everybody to our special mini series for International Nurses Day. The theme this year is our nurses, our future and the economic power of care. So it's been a very interesting theme. And as we've gone along speaking to people, both Sarah and I have reflected on how initially this, theme didn't really float our boat, but as we've been going, I think we've really started to understand how important this theme is actually.

And, particularly in that sort of societal benefits that we see in nursing and obviously the flow on from an economic perspective. But we've got another special guest here today. And before we introduce her, as usual, we're just doing our little bit of a quick, Question and answer between Sarah and I.

 So just before we jump into chatting to Katie Sarah, I just wanted to ask, do you have any funny or interesting stories that you like to tell people about your time when you are a nurse?



I have so many, but some of them are probably not appropriate to talk about in a podcast where there are going to be non nurse listeners.

So I'm going to tell you a story. I actually have I've got two, I've got one from when I was doing my undergrad placement that, it was so beautiful because working with elderly people, that's usually what you do in your first year of nursing. And and so I reminisce on this often but I've also got one from the kids.

So yeah, let me take. Take it back to first year undergrad placement, just started nursing. It was my job on this particular placement to go around and take everyone's false teeth out and wash them. And  I'd never done this before. So off I'd go on my little round, the things that get us. To do and take everyone's false teeth out, put them in a little jars, put all the solution in there, wash them, have a chat to them.

Couldn't really understand them cause they were very gummy. It was a good laugh. And there's this one really beautiful elderly gentleman and he was 92. And he was really cheeky. And, you can tell with elderly people, they've got a twinkle in their eye and you think, I know what you would have been like as a kid.

And actually I look at my second son now and I'm like, I can imagine what you're going to be like when you're an old person because he's got that twinkle in his eyes as well. Anyway, so this lovely old gentleman, 92, I went in to take his false teeth out and I had my hands in there and I was yanking and pulling And he was just looking at me with this Cheeky look on his face, like trying to smile.

And I was like, what is going on? Why can't I not get these teeth out? And he says to me with my fingers still in his mouth, I won't move love. They're real. So I was trying to pull this old man's teeth out for Three or four minutes and he thought it was hilarious. He didn't stop me at any point. So he had real teeth at 92.

I was really impressed. Anyway, the poor guy, I felt so bad but he became one of my favorite residents and we had, such a lovely chats together. And then the other one was on Good Friday one year. I,  for some reason, I always get asked if So my, what do they call it? Doppelganger is apparently Kirsten what's her name?

Kirsten Dunst, I think her name is, which I don't think I look like her, but anyway, I'd love to have her, income as well. That'd be nice. But I was standing in the lifts one year and I had my bright pink scrubs on.  And I had this small child just staring at me. 

They were fixated and I was like, what's going on here? I actually thought they were having a seizure. But when I went to go out of the lift, he turned and looked at his mom and he's mom, it's actually the pink Power Ranger.  Now, I am showing my age here because, obviously Power Rangers are not around anymore, but they were when I first started nursing.

It was so cute, such a beautiful moment. Anyway, I turned around and gave him a high five and I just, I think I made his year. So yeah, I am affectionately known as the Pink Power Ranger.  How about you, Grace? Tell us a funny story from your nursing days.  

You've just made me think about one cause you know how I've mentioned like I'm, multiple generations in my family of nurses and I just thought of one that my mum told me of when she was a student nurse, when you were telling me about the teeth and I was like, Oh, I wonder if it's going to be the same because she told me when she did that teeth round, when she was a student nurse, she tried to be really efficient the first time and put all the teeth together  and wash them all together.

But they wouldn't remember. 

I was like, Oh, have you done the same thing that my mom did just try to be really efficient with the residence fee? She got in a lot of trouble. She got to first years.  Like points for efficiency, but yeah, obviously had to pay for that later. No, you know what one that again, like I've got so many that are not appropriate for this sort of rating of podcasts, but the one that I'd like to tell is actually when I used to do a job when I was doing research for the department of pain and anesthesia, and I actually had to go along and watch Lots of different procedures that children were having, and some of them were painful procedures, and some of them were just, like ultrasounds  and other things like that, that we wouldn't classify as painful, but probably, can be distressing if someone doesn't know what was going on. 

And at the end, I would ask the child to rate their pain using like the FACES scale. And so I remember doing it with a young boy who was having an abdominal ultrasound. It was probably around six years of age. And then following the ultrasound, like it went really well. Like he had the ultrasound, no problems.

I said to him, like, how, Painful, was that ultrasound? Can you rate it using the Wong Baker's faces scale? And he pointed like 10 out of 10. And he said it was like, yeah, that much pain. And I was like, oh, okay. And his parents were like, no, it wasn't painful. You weren't in any pain. And it wasn't part of my questionnaire that I was supposed to do, but I was like, I wonder why he's rated it as that much pain.

I was like, oh, so tell me like, why do you feel that really sad crying face represents how you feel right now. And I remember him saying to me when they got the, and didn't call it this, the ultrasound probe and they put it on my stomach, my guts moved out of my stomach, up into my brain, pushed my brain out all the way down back to my stomach.

And I was like it was hilarious at first, cause he said it was that really cute voice, do you remember that ad that they used to have? Oh yeah. The one, like that little kid that would took off slippery little fuck it's, like with that little voice. But also it was like a real big aha moment for me as well.

Cause I was okay, maybe it wasn't painful for you. But if you really thought that was what was happening in your body when they were doing this ultrasound, then no wonder you said that was 10 But pain, because like to you, your brains and your guts have all moved around and. Yeah, but I often think about that and often I'll say to people when they're like, I don't know why my kids are doing this.

I'm like you don't know what they're thinking right now. They could be thinking like so many different things that we wouldn't even fathom, and that's why,  yeah, never take anything for granted with kids. But yeah, that's one of my favorite stories. 

Oh, I love working with kids. And I also love working with elderly people as well.

They're they've got some really beautiful cheekiness that you can't go past. All right. Enough about our stories. Let's introduce our beautiful guests today. So we have the privilege of interviewing Katie. And Katie is an accredited nurse immunizer and a clinical nurse specialist at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.

She's an advocate for trauma informed patient and family centered care and loves to talk about evidence based practice. Katie's worked in healthcare and water and sanitation in Australia, Southeast Asia, and in Pacific Island countries. She's keen to share her passion for immunization and has special interests in needle phobia.

Vaccination catch ups and international child health. This is so important, Katie. Cannot wait to talk to you. Welcome to the podcast. Can we kick off your session today with you telling us about your journey into nursing? 

Oh, hello. And thank you for that introduction. I actually, as you as mentioned in the intro, I studied an environmental planning degree before going to nursing and I fell into a consulting company and worked in Southeast Asia and in the Pacific. 

I did love the work and I loved the diversity of the work and learning about other cultures.  And I loved seeing so many amazing, beautiful places, but I was a bit ethically challenged working for a, an organization that I felt placed down. People over profits and I felt like a bit of an imposter in there, so I did some soul searching and I thought about what path I wanted my career to take.

But as a 30 year old, I decided to go back to uni and I chose nursing.   I think, because I thought it would allow me to be truly hands on and to help people in a practical way. that I didn't feel like I'd been able to do in my previous role.  I don't know if it's, I think it's probably relevant also that my granny and my auntie were both nurses and I think that probably influenced me in some intuitive way also. 

Wow. What an impressive entry into nursing. I love that you started out in one role and knew that wasn't for you, that you weren't connecting with that. And then really reflected on what's going to give me  not just that drive and passion, but what's What am I going to feel good putting my time into?

Because, look, how much time do we spend at work with our lives? It's so much time, isn't it? Don't they say that we spend more time with our co workers than we do with our own family or something like that? Isn't there something, some evidence to suggest that? It's  scary, but true. Okay 

 I just, I think like I did some soul searching about what my personal life goal would be and it really was to try and achieve resilient, healthy populations.

So it, I think nursing was a good natural fit for me. 

Brilliant. Okay. So tell us a little bit about once you became a nurse what you're now doing now, like what your current role is, or, how you found your way into what you're currently doing and what that entails. 

I have two professional roles at the moment and both of them I love very much.

I work Two days a week in the Royal Children's Hospital emergency department as a clinical nurse specialist. And I work two days a week in the MCRI in the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre as an education nurse coordinator.  So they're both very different roles. Maybe your listeners already have an idea of what an ED nurse does.

So  if I explain what my MBEC role entails. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre, or MVAC, it's a small but very mighty not for profit organisation. We provide immuni independent immunisation advice and information to anyone whether it be healthcare workers or the general public.

We're also accredited by the World Health Organization as a reputable source of vaccine information, sometimes hard to find on the internet, reputable sources of information. So my job is to make sure that the information that we have on, available on our website and through learning modules and education events that we hold that information is up to date and accurate and accessible and engaging.

for listening. I guess at NVIC, yeah, ultimately we're empowering people through knowledge sharing. Did you want me to talk about my ED role as well? 

Yeah, no, for sure. I think that's great. I think, yeah, you're right. There's, people may have some perceptions of what an ED nurse does, but it's really great to hear from you in your own words.

What does, what's a pediatric ED nurse, what's an average, I know it's probably really hard to do what an average shift looks like, but, give us a bit of an idea of, what sort of skills are required and, what you might see in a sort of, if you can make it into an average shift, what does that look like?

I've been working in emergency for nine or 10 years now, so I'm quite senior in terms of, my skill set. And that means that primarily I work in triage or in recess. And when someone walks through the door.  Seeking health care support the triage nurses who they see first and it's my job as triage nurse to  Work out what the key issue is with the child Sometimes that aligns with what the parents concerns are and sometimes it doesn't  and work out how urgently they need to be seen and who or where they might be best placed to be seen or treated.

And then to provide a little bit of education and reassurance to the family about what the next steps will be, about what my concerns are and about my level of concern and to make sure that they are on board and understand what we need from them and how we're going to try and help them with their presentation.

If I'm working in RACES as a RACES nurse,  You tend to be looking after the children who require the most urgent care, or are the most critically unwell children who come through the department.  Sometimes that might just be that they're very clinically complex, rather than desperately unwell. And my job is to advocate for the child and to make sure that they're getting, that they're getting appropriate care.

We work really closely with the medical team, also with social workers and other allied health to make sure that children are getting the best care that they need in a really time critical way. So I, I need to, as a resource nurse, I've been  I've got skills and experience working with children who require airway support, who require circulatory support, or sometimes just emotional support.

And yeah, every day is different. We see so many different children. We see so many different families. I think overall, I'm  always amazed at how resilient families are and how much families can cope with.  I feel like it's a great privilege to be able to work in those spaces and help people and hold space  for people when they're at an incredibly hard or stressful or for some people even devastating moment in their lives.

So that's, yeah, that's ED nursing. It's not always really hard. Sometimes it's really fun and funny and we do see children who aren't desperately unwell, which is always great. So it's a real mixed bag. Sometimes the challenge is working out who is sick and who isn't sick and who's, who's going to be the sneaky one who gets unwell if you don't, if you turn your back for a second. 

Yeah, I always say that it is like the fruit salad of nursing, isn't it? You never know what you're going to get or what's going to walk through the door. And, we've spent a lot of time, many a shift, Grace and I down in the ED supporting you guys. And it's, it's such a privilege working with such a an experienced team.

And MVEC, we're going to link MVEC in our show notes because they are an incredible source of information. And, we are So honored to be working with you occasionally and to support you as well, because the information is so credible and no nonsense. So yeah, definitely you guys. So tell us, you've touched on a little bit there, Katie, about what you love in the ED.

But what do you actually love about nursing? What drives you every single day to continue being a nurse? 

Good question. I just, there are so many things I love about nursing. And I especially, I think about, pediatric nursing. You guys touched on a couple of good stories with kids and kids that they are hilarious.

I love working with kids.  It's really fun most of the time and it allows you to be playful and curious in a way that I think most people don't get to be in their workplace. So  I love working with kids. I love how dynamic things are. I think that I also love being a part of a team that Has its has helping people as its core purpose.

That's incredibly validating and inspiring. Yeah, I think being a nurse is actually a huge part of my identity. And it rocks my boat in a way that I don't think any other jobs I've done has ever. So yeah, for, yeah, it's an incredibly enriching role. 

Oh, that's beautiful. And I agree. There's that playfulness, that we get to  indulge in as pediatric nurses, you've got to be happy to sing a few wiggle tunes play board games, card games, whatever it is, know what the latest bluey episode is. And that's.  I don't know.

Like I enjoy that as well. It does allow you to always be in touch a little bit with your inner child. I really love that as well.  All right. So what don't you like about nursing? What is the side in which you could totally leave out of nursing if you had the chance? 

I would have to say feces, dealing with other people's feces.

Metaphorical and physical. I think lots of nurses draw the line at phlegm. And, but I really have no problem with phlegm. I don't mind phlegm. For me, it's all about the poo. I'm not a fan of poo. I haven't found anything.  We had the poo talk yesterday. I'm with you. I'm with you. I love the poo. I haven't found anything that I don't like about working in MVIC yet, as it's a very different nursing role, no poo involved.

Except that one of the joys of nursing or one of the great reliefs of nursing is that when you're doing shift work nursing, you can hand over to someone else and it can be difficult to let go of those stories. And, sometimes.  There is a great sadness in some of the work that we do,  but you can hand over to the next person and you can, and I think I've been good at letting go at the end of my shift, but in fact, you can't do that because it's, there's no one else  to hand over to.

I think two, working two days a week is not enough to do all the things that we want to do. It's a really, that's a kind of an interesting comparison point that I now have. With working in clinical and non clinical role. 

Yeah, I think that's so true, isn't it? Like we, that is the beautiful thing about nursing.

Sometimes it is 24 hour and we say that to our new starters. It's a 24 hour job. So you're not going to be able to complete everything in your one shift. It's continuous care, but I think it also highlights how important your team is. And I know that the NVAC team is amazing. You're lucky there, but yeah, it's a very different type of role, isn't it? 

Yeah, I don't think I actually mentioned, though one of the things that I like about MVEC. I talked about my ED stuff, but what I love that in MVEC, I can bring all my clinical experience to such a different space and to that preventative medicine space where, compared to, where you're working.

Behind the eight ball. I think it's like immunization is such a fascinating field and it's a rapidly evolving space with changes to like population health, theory and policy and new technologies and new understandings of immunity and immunology.  And there's like also really interesting aspects of dealing with issues of humanness, with needle phobia and vaccine hesitancy and, human error.

So it's, that's a really invigorating space and really different space to work in. 

That's so amazing. What, yeah, what an incredible career you have. All now it's your turn to tell us. Do you have any funny or interesting stories that you'd like to share with the audience about your time during nursing?  

I've been absolutely racking my brain and I think because I've done night shift, my brain is not coming to the party.

And like you, so many of the stories, they're just not general audience rated. I think one of the things that I love about working in a children's hospital is the other day I got in the lift and there was nobody in the lift, but every button had been pressed. And I just thought.

Yeah, I'm back in a children's hospital. Some kid has just gone  and I had to get up to the top floor and I had to stop. 

I'll take ownership for it. That's totally my kid's MO.  It 

just, 

it gave me a real chill. 

Yeah, I don't think maybe that would annoy some people. Maybe they're not cut out for being an actress.  

No, that's a great opportunity. You're going to get there eventually. You'll just visit every floor along the way, won't you?

Absolutely. 

Yeah.  

Oh, brilliant. Oh, what a, this has been really wonderful chatting to Katie and hearing about your journey into nursing and what you do now. So we really appreciate you taking the time today to chat to us and contribute to our  Nurses Day series. It's been a really beautiful series to be able to do and hear all these different stories of nurses that are really making a difference in the community for children.

So so much for joining us. 

Thanks for the time and happy International Nurses Day, everyone.  

 Well, everyone, that's it for today. Thank you so much for tuning in to another episode of Pete's Small Talk. If you love this episode, we'd be so grateful if you left a review, subscribe to our podcast, and follow us on social media, where you are guaranteed to find life saving tips and tricks for keeping your little ones safe.

See you next time.