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Nursing isn’t limited to being in on the action at hospitals where scrubs are used or where face-to-face conversations with patients happen. There are different options of how nurses work and that includes being a triage nurse. Lynn Smith, who works in Nurse Triage for Medibank, knows that even through the telephone, she can still make a difference in the lives of others.
Starting her career in nursing, Lynn built her foundation in paediatrics before becoming a drug and alcohol nurse. She then spent two years working in a psych ward, before moving to Accident & Emergency. One of the biggest changes came when Lynn, who was working for an agency, received a phone call asking her if she was interested in working in a prison.
“I thought ‘What do you do in a prison?’. I’d never thought of it but I decided ‘why not?’ and stuck to the job for about seven years. And it was actually such a lovely job.”
Just the same as being a nurse on-site, working from home and providing assistance from behind the phone also has its ups and downs.
“I find that being a triage nurse, I don’t have any stress with me and much like in a hospital, I don’t know what I’ll be faced with on a daily basis. But it’s all very structured, we have all the tools in place to make sure we do our job properly.”
Lynn says that one of the biggest things she has learnt throughout her nursing career is to expand her listening. This means not just simply hearing the patient’s voice but truly understanding everything else that’s behind it and analysing how they really feel.
“It’s about getting to that point where you’re able to listen through the words that they’re saying and really hearing how their voices are or what’s going on in the background. Learning this skill greatly helps the situation.”
In a job where many of her calls begin with stressed callers, it is important to have patience. This attribute helps keep situations calm, which then leads to issues being directed in the best way possible.
“Callers can be very anxious when you first speak with them so it’s important to help them calm down. Patience and understanding are great assets to have as a triage nurse and it’s also very important to stick to your values. On top of this, it’s vital to have a broad spectrum of knowledge.”
Being a triage nurse is something that, according to Lynn, is extremely rewarding. To be able to be a part of someone’s life when they’re worried or stressed and provide assistance is something she loves.
“It’s a nice feeling when you know you’ve done your job well and have really helped someone. They want to know that there’s someone on the other side who can help them, someone to remind them that they’re not alone.”
Offline, Lynn loves spending time with her husband and enjoying life as much as they can whether on their own or with a big group.
“We love the sea and caravanning so we go away every chance we get. We frequently get together with family so my love for cooking is satisfied during those times. We also have our beautiful Border Collie, Harley, who is such a loving part of our lives. I love a busy life outside of work and I’m grateful that Medibank understands and supports a flexible work-life balance.”