Providing care and compassion

This month, as part of Calvary Mater Newcastle’s celebration of the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, we meet Louise Walpole, Clinical Nurse Specialist.

What is your position and what area do you work in? I am a clinical nurse specialist in the Emergency Department (ED). I have worked in the ED for the last 15 years and love the fast pace of the department, the staff I work with and the patients we have the privilege of caring for every day.

What led you toward nursing as a career? I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a nurse. My mum’s friend worked as a director of nursing in a hospital in Melbourne and she is one of the main reasons I choose to be a nurse. After interviewing her for a project in year 10, I loved the stories she told of how she cared for her patients and their families.
So I commenced my nursing career as an enrolled nurse, completing my studies at RMIT University in Melbourne. A change in my life saw me move to Newcastle in 2000 after meeting my now husband on a Contiki tour in the Northern Territory in 1999.

What studies have you undertaken to increase your skills? I commenced a Bachelor of Nursing at Newcastle University in 2000 while I worked as an enrolled nurse at the John Hunter Hospital and Rankin Park Rehabilitation Centre. In 2001 I worked in the oncology ward at Lingard Private Hospital until late 2003 when I completed my degree.

In 2003 I commenced the Hunter Area Health New Graduate Program working in the medical ward at Belmont District Hospital, oncology ward at the Mater and theatres at the Royal Newcastle Hospital. In 2004 I gained a position in the 2nd year registered nurse program in ED at the Mater.

After working in ED I knew that this was the area where I wanted to continue the rest of my nursing career. I love that you never know what patient is going to present and the fast pace of the department.

In 2008 I completed a Graduate Certificate in Critical Care Nursing at the College of Nursing, which enabled me to secure a position as a clinical nurse specialist. As a clinical nurse specialist I provide clinical support, counselling, expert clinical leadership, and guidance as well as assisting with clinical teaching and demonstration of new procedures and equipment.

After having my children, I completed the Graduate Certificate in Health Management in 2019 at the University of New England. This qualification has enabled me to relieve in the roles of Acting Clinical Nurse Unit Manager and Nurse Manager Clinical Resources.

What does a ‘normal’ work day look like? You never have a ‘normal’ day in the ED, you never know what is going to come through the front door. It might be a minor complaint such as sprained ankles, lacerations or cardiac arrest. However, we are always braced to be at the ready to care for whatever and whoever comes to the department.

What do you love most about being a nurse? I love that nursing is so diverse, where I can care for the patient, their significant others and problem solve at the same time. There are many different opportunities that nursing offers where you can choose a specialty field which suits your interests. But most of all I love that as a nurse I can provide care and compassion to those in need, most often at a vulnerable part of their lives where I hope that I have made a difference.