Interview: Kobie Clarke – ICU Clinical Nurse Specialist

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by Chloe Thornton

12.12.18

Interview: Kobie Clarke – ICU Clinical Nurse Specialist

My name is Kobie Clarke and I am a Critical Care Registered Nurse.

I am a passionate, 100 mile an hour type of girl that is always trying to imagine the next adventure. I wear my heart on my sleeve, always wanting the best for my friends, family and patients. I love a good chat with a nice wine and an even better platter.

Sunshine instantly makes me happy, and so does the smell of coffee!

I am a true nurse.

I am a keen traveller, having visited most countries throughout Central and South America, along with Asia, and I was fortunate enough to volunteer in Vietnam.

The next big trip will be two years travelling and working in hospitals around Australia. If the opportunity for some further travels abroad the country wish list would be Africa, Portugal and Spain.

What does your current job entail?

I am a Clinical Nurse Specialist in two Intensive Care Units.

Splitting my time in a Private Hospital in my hometown of Geelong, and in a Public hospital in Melbourne.

As an Intensive Care nurse I care for some of the sickest patients in the Hospital, who are at times in Induced comas, have had Cardiac Bypass Surgery, or need life saving Dialysis treatment.

As an ICU Nurse we are a ‘jack of all trades’, having to know every system of the body in depth, and how they all work together to keep our bodies alive.

I pride myself on my patient assessment skills, ability to critically think, and interpersonal skills with working closely with Medical and Allied Health staff.

 

What/who inspired you to become an nurse? Did you always know you wanted to work as an nurse?

I decided I wanted to be a nurse in high school, when one of my friends fell ill, I can remember going in to visit her and was impressed with the nurses and the care they provided, thinking helping people was something I wanted to do.  

I laugh now, originally wanted to be an electrician. I feel that if I had of chosen a different profession my life would have been very different.

Without sounding cliché, my parents, especially my mum is a huge inspiration, not to just be a nurse, but to be a woman with a career and education. As a young child they always said that I can do anything I put my mind to, and as a young person I believed it, to the point I have always pushed to make them proud.

Where did you do your training and how long did it take?

Way back in 2006 I graduated high school a year earlier than most, completing my VCE by the age of 16, and made the decision that I was too young for University.

In 2007 I completed a Certificate IV in Health, Enrolled Nurse course, that had 12 months duration. It was daily 9am-5pm class room styled schooling, with two week blocks of clinical placement every term.  I think it would be the closest style of old school nursing training that is found today. This was the perfect start to my nursing career, allowing me to work part time as a nurse whilst at university.

I had jobs in a variety of areas in from 2008 to 2010 working for Barwon Health in paediatrics, orthopaedic and stroke rehabilitation, aged care and palliative care.

I completed my Bachelor of Nursing in 2010 at Deakin University Waterfront campus, Geelong, and was successful in obtaining a Graduate Nurse Position at the Austin Hospital. I was so proud and grateful of the education and training I received from this fantastic health institution. The area I worked in the most was cardiothoracics and this would have to be my place that started my love for cardiac conditions or the wonderful heart that is such an important pump in our body.

What has the path, from commencement of study to now, looked like for you? Has there been any change in direction?

At the start of my nursing I would have hoped to be specialised in Paediatric Nursing, that changed when a senior nurse suggested I complete my general adult nursing prior to specialising, today if I ever saw her again, I would thank her.

The path of my career has taken me all over the country, after two and a half years at the Austin I was interested how hospitals in other parts of the country cared for people, what they did in practice and how they managed to treat their patients without fancy machines and operating theatres that major metropolitan hospitals have.

So midway through 2013 I took off to Queensland and aimed to get to Darwin, NT.

I found myself in Mackay, North Queensland, a change had gone through with the government and all agency nurses had lost jobs and were forced to go home.

I was fresh out of Melbourne, 2 years fresh out of home, and found myself living with family as there was no contracts available in the state after they had been promised to me. This was a big lesson and a turning point in my career.

I was offered two jobs at Mackay Base Hospital, one in the Renal Unit where they would train me in Dialysis, or the other mixed Cardiology and Intensive Care. Being very tempted by both, I decided the Intensive Care gig as I knew I would learn how to Dialyse a patient and so much more.

After 6 months, I decided it was time to go home and in 2014 I was fortunate enough to complete my Postgraduate Certificate in Critical Care- Intensive Care at Geelong University Hospital. Which was wonderful, stressful and time at home.

In 2015 I was feeling like I hadn’t completed what I originally set out to do, so I began looking for contracts around Australia, and in the July, I obtained my first Agency Contract. I found myself flying to work at the Royal Darwin Hospital, looking out of the window, at the red dirt, crying, thinking what have I done? I’ve left my family, friends and a very good job to chase the unknown.

I lived in hospital accommodation, in my very own one bedroom unit, at the ‘staff village’, a collection of units on the hospital grounds that was filled with people from all over Australia and the world.

My time in Darwin was the best time of my life, something I do not regret whatsoever. To the point I extended my three month contract to six, and after crying my whole way home, I returned to Victoria for only a few months I made the decision to move back to Darwin to live and join as part of NT Health. Which has now set up my career like you would not know.

The Intensive Care at the Royal Darwin Hospital was so diverse. I saw tropical diseases, international patients from Indonesia, East Timor, people with major traumas, and so much more. We liased with the Royal Flying Doctors, Careflight, and cared for people all over the top end of Australia. Indigenous Health is a fascinating, beautiful and worrysum experience. This was just the work life, my lifestyle out of work was amazing. Weekends away in Kakadu, the opportunity camp, swim and hike in true outback Australia. It is a place I talk about almost every day.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome to be where you are today?

Would be all of the above! Moving, changing jobs and always searching for more, my tip: it takes three months to settle into a new job. I change mine every 6-18months. But that’s not because I didn’t like it, I just think I am a gypsy at heart.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

Two things

  1. Seeing people survive the most unimaginable critical illness
  2. Watching people wake from comas and look at their loved ones

What is your least favourite thing about your job?

Another two

  1. Disrespectful people
  2. The shift work, we care more for our patients than ourselves.

What sticks out to you as the most important lesson you’ve learnt in your career so far?


How you treat your body as a young individual will reflect on who you are as an older person.

Any special areas of interest that you may explore in the future?

Holistic Health. Western Medicine does not look at the patient or person as a whole, physical health is only one paradigm to a person living, their spiritual, emotional and mental wellbeing need to be included.

What tips or words of wisdom would you share with someone thinking of becoming a nurse, changing specialty or working rurally?

Do it! Nursing is a crazy wonderful job that gives you daily rewards. You meet some of the most wonderful people at very vulnerable times in their lives, and you can make some the best friends with your fellow nurses.

There is never a time a nurse could ever say they are bored, and when they do, the have a range of specialities and areas to move to.

If they wanted to move rurally, never compare two healthcare institutions, expect the unexpected, look up rural and remote courses to prepare, and if you can be good at a particular skill it would have to be patient assessment. You don’t have to know the diagnosis and what is wrong with the patient, you just have to know what is not right and alert a doctor.  

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