Former MSC students Stef, Gracen and Tahlee relish their roles at Moree Hospital ED

IT is no coincidence the Moree District Hospital enjoys a reputation as one of the best in rural and regional NSW.

With a vibrant staff including a number of locally born, bred and educated nurses, personal investment in the local health service is significant.

Stefanie Sharpe, Tahlee Sabine and Gracen Bussell are three Moree nurses all pursuing the profession of their dreams.

And each believes that growing up in Moree and being educated locally allows them a unique insight into patients – and an extra element of empathy possible, thanks to long-forged relationships.

“Finishing school here in Moree has been hugely beneficial for my career. It’s a small town and often I have patients who know my family or I know theirs – it helps put them at ease during what can be a very vulnerable time,” Tahlee Sabine said.

While it can create the potential to get too involved, “it’s hard to switch off and not take work home with you when you know so many of the patients”, Gracen Bussell admits.

“It’s also hugely satisfying, assisting in the health and wellbeing of the community.

Stefanie Sharpe, Gracen Bussell and Tahlee Sabine are local girls who all chose to live and work back in their Moree community.

“I’m so proud to be a Moree girl working here in our local hospital, and I have the Moree Secondary College and Sharon Nash, nurse unit manager of theatre and surgery to thank,” Gracen says.

As a 2013 Moree Secondary College graduate, Gracen embarked on a school-based traineeship in Years 11 and 12, working twice a week at the hospital in conjunction with an online learning component, and school.

“I always knew I wanted to be a nurse, and Sharon really got the ball rolling, encouraging me and helping me get organised for my traineeship,” Gracen said.

“Moree Secondary College was also instrumental in facilitating my traineeship, and it’s a path I am so grateful I had the opportunity to explore.

“I learnt so much on the job before finishing school, and the work experience all counted towards my ATAR.

“Plus, I developed a passion for the profession which I may never have otherwise realised,” Gracen said.

 Tahlee, a 2008 graduate of Moree Secondary College, agrees that the school was imperative in guiding her towards her chosen career path.

“The teachers were so supportive, and my mum was a nurse, so I always had a pretty clear plan that I wanted to study nursing after school,” Tahlee said.

“The fact that the teachers knew this, and guided me towards the necessary subjects such as Biology, PDHPE and maths just goes to show the personal approach they took with each individual student.”

Stefanie Sharpe, a 2006 Moree Secondary College graduate, completed a Bachelor of Nursing at QUT, Brisbane, before her first job at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

“Working in a large hospital was fantastic, and gave me great grounding as a nurse, but at the end of the day I always wanted to return to Moree and be close to family,” Stefanie said.

“I have great friends from school still here, and it’s so rewarding to work in a smaller hospital, where we can take a more holistic approach and follow a patient’s whole journey.

“It’s lovely to run into former patients down the street – nurses and patients fight battles together and seeing them back on their feet is always inspiring,” she smiles.

With Stefanie and Tahlee Emergency Department nurses, the stakes – and pressure – are often high.

But it’s a role both relish.

“As a nurse there’s nothing more critical than that first response decision-making, and while of course it’s a very high-stress position, it’s what we’re all trained for,” Stefanie explains.

While Tahlee admits she had no intention of moving back to Moree after completing her postgraduate degree in nursing via UNE, a position in Moree as an Emergency Nurse proved too enticing.

“I was working in Tamworth and thought that’s where my career would unfold, but when the ED job came up in Moree five years ago it was too good an opportunity to miss,” she said.

Five years later, and Tahlee admits she hasn’t looked back.

“I love working here, and am so glad I made the move home,” she said.

“My friends are here, my family is here and I get to work with a fantastic group of people every day, all passionate about the wellbeing of Moree,” Tahlee smiled.

Words and Image: Georgina Poole