Why nurses don't mind bloody hard work.

By Kellie Scott.

Nursing is not for the faint-hearted, and I’m not just talking about the blood.

Nurses and midwives welcome us into the world, help us stay for as long as possible and often comfort us in the end — but it’s no secret they are often overworked and under-supported.

Those professional stresses often feed into their personal lives, taking a toll on finances, relationships and mental health.

Female nurses and midwives have a suicide risk almost three times the rate for women in other jobs. For males, it’s one-and-a-half of that for men in other professions (alarming when you consider the already-high rate of suicide in men).

It can be a gloomy picture for those we can’t live without, but still, there are more than 360,000 nurses in Australia. You probably know a few.

On International Nurses Day we ask these Aussie legends, why be a nurse?

Once you start nursing, you can’t stop: Farron

Farron Sullivan used to complain about the sleep deprivation associated with nursing, but then she had triplets.

The 26-year-old works at Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in the emergency department (ED).

Nursing was always a path she wanted to take, following in the footsteps of her mum and step-father.

“My step-dad has been an emergency nurse and I was really inspired by them,” she says, adding at six years old she knew it was the career for her.

Since becoming a mum, Farron has reduced her working hours to two days a week, which she says can be a break from home life.


But it’s the emotional side of working in the ED the registered nurse struggles with.

“It can take a massive toll on me because I am someone who is very emotional and I care a lot about people’s thoughts and feelings,” she says.

“It makes me a better nurse but it also has its impact on me.”

Farron says support from work colleagues and in-house counselling is key, because she wouldn’t choose any other career.

“Once you start nursing you can’t stop, you don’t know what else you want to do.”

It’s the land of the unknown: Joshua

A rollercoaster is how 22-year-old Joshua Banner would explain his role in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Westmead Children’s Hospital in Sydney.

“You don’t know what is around the corner, but you just hold on and keep going,” the registered nurse says.

“It’s the land of the unknown.”

Joshua decided to become a nurse while working with vulnerable children overseas.

“I was exposed to different types of situations where children and adults were involved and they didn’t have the best facilities, so I thought nursing would allow me to eventually travel overseas and help those less fortunate.”

Joshua, who describes himself as a foodie, gym-lover and adventurer, says the toll nursing takes can sometimes impact on his personal life, but the reward of supporting families gives him a sense of purpose.


“In the ICU we see the parents and the children at the absolute worst time of their life.

“It’s family-centred nursing rather than patient-centred nursing.”

Joshua says he holds memories for the children who “don’t end up the way you hope”, but is comforted by those that do.

“When they come back in to visit and you see how far they’ve come from what they were, they can breathe on their own, it’s a nice feeling.”

Being there, in the end, is a privilege: Sharee

Registered nurse Sharee Rayner, who provides in-home aged care and disability support for Just Better Care in Melbourne, says it is a “privilege” to be part of a family’s intimate moments.

“We get to be a part of life coming into the world, and people leaving the world,” she says.

“For that short amount of time, the family treats you like one of their own.”

Sharee has been present for the passing of several patients and describes those moments as an honour.

“We had one lady who we rolled over to face the window so she could look out while she went,” she says. “That was beautiful to watch, she went very peacefully. It’s not always peaceful so it’s nice to see that.”

But the role of nurse doesn’t come without sacrifice for the Melbourne mother, who says missing out on time with her children has been hard.

“The guilt, it gets to you — I haven’t walked the dog, I haven’t cooked my child a meal in three days.


“You’re there looking after patients, making sure they are safe, nurtured, fed and given emotional support then you go home and walk in the door and the kids ask what is for dinner.

“Sometimes it just feels like everyone wants a piece of you.”

It’s not glamourous, but it’s rewarding: Sandra

Graduating through the hospital system in 1987, Sandra Holland has led a colourful career mainly focused on paediatrics and neo-natal care. She even took a hiatus driving a delivery truck when she felt totally “burnt out” by the health industry.

Today, Sandra is a clinical nurse consultant at Sydney Children’s Hospital where she works closely with Save Our Sons — a group seeking a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy — the number one genetic killer of young boys.

“It’s not a glamourous type of job but it’s very rewarding … supporting families,” she says.

With only four nurses in Australia with the capabilities to wholly support the 800 families affected by the condition, Sandra’s expertise is in high demand.

But despite her experience, her skills are not always acknowledged.

“Sometimes we are viewed as a service industry, that we have to be there, and not always given credit for our knowledge,” she says.

“We’ve come a long way over the past 30 years I’ve been a nurse, but we still have a long way to go to be recognised as professionals.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

© 2017 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. Read the ABC Disclaimer here