Beth Harper (2013) stands up and serves

A career in nursing has been a dream of IGS Alumna Beth Harper (2013) for as long as she can remember.

The recent graduate begun her nursing program at Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce, Canberra, in the middle of the COVID lockdown. Her first rotation is on an acute medical ward where she will see a variety of hospital presentations.

Beth, who started at IGS in Preschool in 2001, said it has been challenging starting her career in the COVID pandemic. 

“As a new graduate, this pandemic has made it really hard. Our normal support systems within the hospital have dwindled due to staff shortages and therefore we are unable to access services that other graduate nurses were able to previously. Additionally, most of us are now glued to our phones or computer screens, constantly checking if we have been at any exposure locations in case we need to leave our shift to and get tested and isolate,” Beth said.

“We have faced huge staff shortages as a result of the recent lockdowns in Canberra! A fifth of Canberra’s nurses are currently in quarantine due to being at exposure sites. We also are required to wear a face-mask as well as face shields the entire time we are working on the ward. If we have a potential COVID-19 patient, we are then required to wear full PPE. Although PPE items are not the most comfortable or stylish options to wear, we are very lucky to have access to this as I know other cities in Australia and other countries are struggling with access to PPE.”

Beth said she was inspired to work in nursing from a young age.

“In Year 3 my mum was diagnosed with cancer, but luckily recovered very quickly. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with cancer again when I was in Year 7, and then in Year 8, she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour and underwent significant brain surgery to remove it. It was fair to say that I spent a lot of my time during primary school and a fair chunk of time during early High School in hospital visiting and spending time with my Mum,” Beth said.

“While at the hospital, the nurses used to let me sit in their nurses’ station and help me complete my homework. Looking back, I’m not sure how they had the time to help me but I always wanted to pay that back to future kids who have parents going through cancer treatment or other significant health complications.”

Beth recalled having many amazing memories as a student at IGS.

“One that particularly stands out to me was our music tour to New Zealand in 2011. With the current circumstances, I feel really lucky to have had that opportunity – all thanks to Mrs Housley! Another favourite memory would be year 6 with Mr Smith.

“I was lucky to have fantastic teachers all throughout my time at IGS but Mr Smith was a real stand out. I remember he was new to the School at the start of 2009 yet he made such an imprint on my life. He always brought a positive energy into the classroom at such a formative year of our lives, before we started High School.”

Beth added that IGS really “pushed students to do what they wanted to do after they left school”.

“They never had an agenda for any student and I think that went a long way in creating the culture at IGS that many students all know and love. The biggest supports of this, from my point of view, were Lucy Sensei and Mr Galea. Sure, they were tough when they needed to be, but my goodness did they encourage kids to follow their dreams,” she said.

“I also remember the exceptional support I was provided with by IGS during the times when my Mum was sick. Mr Bird used to let me choose one other student from my class each day and spend recess and lunch eating in his office. This didn’t seem like much at the time, yet reflecting on this, I am thankful to have had that opportunity to be so well supported by such a fantastic and kind group of teachers.”

Beth said if you have a passion to join the healthcare workforce, to go for it.

“Nurses are the most trusted profession in the world and that makes my job one that I am honoured to be a part of. It is also a profession that allows an individual to work anywhere in the world,” she said.

“I know that Sydney has been doing it tough these past couple of months. It definitely wasn’t the school experience I grew up with. However, the teachers and students at IGS are incredibly resilient and I know that both IGS and Sydney will come through this.”

We’re so proud of you, Beth! Thank you for sharing your story with the IGS community. Every best wish to you.