Rosella is our paediatric intensive care ward (PICU), providing specialist care to critically ill infants, children and young people. The RCH is also the designated state-wide major trauma centre for paediatrics and is a National Funded Centre for paediatric heart transplantation, paediatric liver transplantation (in collaboration with Austin health) and paediatric lung transplantation (in collaboration with Alfred Health).
The unit employs more than 180 nursing staff, most of whom have an extra qualification in paediatric intensive care, or are working towards it.
We caught up with two Rosella nurses, Nikki and Stephanie, who shared with us what life is like as a PICU nurse.
How is Rosella different to other wards in the RCH?
Nikki: Rosella provides specialist care for critically ill, injured, and ventilated infants, children and adolescents. These patients are unsuitable for other wards because of physiological instability or their dependence on specialist equipment.
Stephanie: Rosella provides 1:1 or 1:2 nurse ratios and we pride ourselves on patient advocacy and family-centred care not only for our patients, but families too.
Can you tell us about the type of patients you care for?
Nikki: Rosella is split into two main areas, General and Cardiac, and we care for a variety of critically ill patients including neurological, trauma, cardiac, renal, respiratory and oncology patients – just to name a few. We also care for children immediately post cardiac surgery, heart and liver transplantation.
What attracted you to working at the RCH and PICU?
Nikki: Having worked in Adult ICU for six years in the United Kingdom, critical care nursing was my bread and butter and I have always loved children. Joining the PICU team four years ago was a way of combining both these passions and I am so pleased I made the transition. I love being a paediatric nurse.
Stephanie: I knew when I set my heart on nursing that I wanted to work with children and had a particular dream to work at The Royal Children’s Hospital. I count myself privileged to now be living that dream. Why PICU specifically? I love the challenge and I love the one-on-one focused care!
Why did you get into nursing?
Nikki: I was admitted to hospital with pneumonia as a teenager. It was there I realised my desire to help people and care for them in times of need. I also had the pleasure of having the most amazing nurses care for me, who inspired me to one day equal their skill, diligence and passion.
Stephanie: My Nonna always wanted one of her grandchildren to follow in her footsteps and become a nurse; I was always sure I wasn’t going to be that grandchild! When I was around 16 everything changed. I knew I wanted to spend my days doing something I loved and saw value in. Nursing all of a sudden seemed the perfect fit and I’ve never looked back!
What’s the most rewarding thing about your role?
Nikki: Seeing a seriously ill child discharged from intensive care is rewarding, knowing that I have contributed to that child’s recovery. When they start smiling and playing again it is heart-melting, and that makes me smile.
Stephanie: The beautiful hope that we can make a difference in the lives of children and families. That makes every moment worth it!
Is there a particular patient or moment that has stood out for you?
Nikki: One little girl that I nursed had neurological damage. Her sedation had been turned off three days prior, but she wasn’t waking up and things were looking bleak. One day during my shift music therapy came to visit this little girl and they played her favourite nursery rhyme, ‘five little ducks’. Without warning, her little hand shot up in the air and began doing the hand actions to the rhyme. This got everybody in the room crying, including me the bedside nurse. It is a moment I will never forget!
How do you relax after a shift?
Nikki: I enjoy bubble baths followed by snuggling on the sofa with my two doggies and a mug of tea.
Stephanie: I love being outdoors. A bit of exercise – usually running or pilates – or quality time with my husband and yummy food. Yep. The simple things.
If you weren’t a nurse, what would you be doing instead?!
Nikki: Probably social work because back at school I was debating between this and nursing. I am of course very glad I chose nursing as my career because ten years later I still love it!
Stephanie: There’s not many other things I could imagine myself doing, I really do love nursing, but If I wasn’t nursing, I would very likely be adventuring somewhere in Africa – a continent, people and culture I love! Or maybe I’d be a stay at home mum.