Calculated career move pays off for student nurse

Working a 9-5 job in finance did not add up for Janita Dutt, who took a calculated risk to follow her mum and sister into a nursing career.

Janita Dutt

Janita, 25, is an undergraduate student in nursing at Ipswich Hospital.

The proud Nywaigi woman, from Hinchinbrook Island, Far North Queensland, spent three years as a finance manager before deciding the flexibility and diversity of a nursing career was the right path for her.

Joining West Moreton Health’s First Nations Nursing Cadet Program, Janita works predominantly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members in the Chronic Conditions Service, which includes the Heart Failure and Lung Failure services. However, as an undergraduate student, she also gains valuable knowledge in other West Moreton Health services.

“In the Chronic Conditions Service I get to be down in the Jaghu Gym for cardiac patients and in the other half of my shift I work in the Medical Assessment and Planning Unit (MAPU). I get the best of both worlds. I see the heart failure and cardiac patients, who are completing their health journey, and then in the MAPU I see people as they come into the hospital.”

MAPU brings together doctors, nurses and allied health professionals to look at all aspects of a patient’s health.

Janita said she welcomed the support and training provided by the First Nations Cadet Program mentors, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Senior Health Worker Pauline Brown and Clinical Nurse Consultant Tracy Fearn.

She said Tracy and Pauline had been instrumental in helping her learn on the job, sharing their experience and encouraging her to explore her Aboriginal heritage.

“This program has given me more exposure and insight into Indigenous health and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. It is really good to see it. We study a unit at university but it is different to actually caring for, communicating and being with someone with who is of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent and asking them how they are and what their experience has been,” she said.

“You hear how well they talk about staff members. It makes you value how more Indigenous people need to be in these roles. It makes them feel safe, creating a culturally safe environment. It is seeing what we can do for our people as future nurses.”

Also supporting Janita is Exercise Physiologist Nelson Daugalis, who works with the First Nations community in the Deadly Steps Together Program. This program is a culturally safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18+ who are at risk of a chronic health condition or who have one or more chronic health conditions. This free service for the West Moreton community is also supported by Indigenous Senior Health Workers.

Janita said the cadet program provided great insight into First Nations health needs.

“When I moved to Ipswich I saw how needed it was for healthcare workers to know about the community; to know what sort of patients you are going to get; how to communicate with them; and what they needed from you. Programs such as this can really help nurses close the gap because you are so much more culturally aware.”

Janita is on track to complete her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the end of 2023.