Western NSW Local Health District’s first Cadetship graduate Aboriginal Registered Nurse is enjoying her current role as Acting Nurse Unit Manager of Dubbo Hospital’s Day Surgery Unit.
Kellyann Johnson started her nursing career relatively later in life, but has a long health career history, having started as an Aboriginal Health Education Officer (AHEO) in 1996, first in Drug and Alcohol and then in Diabetes education. She became the first non-Nurse AHEO to be an accredited diabetes educator in 2000.
“After that I studied Aboriginal Health Promotion and achieved my graduate certificate,” Kellyann said.
“Then when I was 37 I decided to go to university to study nursing, and was fortunate enough to get an Aboriginal cadetship”.
Kellyann’s cadetship gave her the opportunity to work in Dubbo Hospital’s S block, where she continued working under the graduate program, followed by experience in the operating theatres and day surgery unit.
“I didn’t always want to be a nurse but it seemed a natural progression for me and I love that every day is interesting and I get to meet a lot of different people,” Kellyann said.
“We have some fantastic indigenous nurses at Dubbo Hospital, in Theatres, Emergency, ICU and the general wards, and I encourage other indigenous people who might be thinking about a career in nursing to go for it as there are so many different paths it can take you down,” she said.
Dubbo Health Service Director of Nursing Jenny Johnson said that while Kellyann doesn’t see herself as a role model, she really is an inspiration.
“Kellyann is already making a difference. For instance she recently spoke to a group of school students about indigenous scholarships and they loved her stories about some of the things she sees in her job every day”.
Jenny said Kellyann is an excellent nurse who has a wonderful rapport with patients and their families, as well as her colleagues.
“Kellyann is a real asset for Dubbo Hospital and the Health District and she has huge potential for further professional development and leadership”.
Western NSW Local Health District is committed to increasing and enhancing its Aboriginal workforce as part of its Closing the Gap priority in its Strategic Plan.