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New challenges around every corner

The Defence Force is taking nurses to all parts of the world.

Hanging out of a helicopter isn’t something one would expect to see in the job description of a nurse, but that is why Major Eraine La Galle is constantly excited about her work.

It has been 18 years since Major La Galle joined the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps and while she didn’t intend to stay so long she wouldn’t give up one single year, and plans on staying for many more.

“I have had so many amazing experiences that I wouldn’t have had as a civilian nurse,” she says.

“I’ve done a rotary wing aeromedical evacuation course and got to hang out of a helicopter to rescue people and helicopter underwater escape training. And that is just two examples from almost two decades worth.”

Seeing parts of the world that don’t often feature in the travel pages has been another “perk of the job” for Major La Galle. However, she says, it is far from a holiday.

Part of the medical team deployed to treat casualties of the tsunami in Banda Aceh, Major La Galle had to work under the toughest of conditions.

“I have been deployed to many similar situations but even with that experience it never fully prepares you for the types of casualties that come from such a horrific disaster,” she says.

Group Captain Michael Paterson has also been deployed to all parts of the world during his 24 years with the Air Force including East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea.

The opportunity to travel was one of the main attractions for him to join the Defence Force.

“I worked at Rockhampton Hospital as a registered nurse for two years and decided it was time for a change,” Group Captain Paterson says.

“Having a military career wasn’t something I had ever really considered until I talked to someone about the opportunities available.

“I was born and bred in Rockhampton so the idea of always having a new challenge around the corner really appealed to me.”

And he hasn’t been disappointed.

“I love nursing in all its forms, and in the defence force you do the same role as any registered nurse in Australia, as well as the military side of the profession,” he says.

The director of Defence Force nursing, Group Captain Paterson says many people aren’t aware of the opportunities available for nurses in the military.

For the past year it has been health specialist recruiter Major La Galle’s responsibility to make people aware.

“There really are so many opportunities for nurses in the Defence Force, not just in terms of travel and experience but in progressing their nursing skills, leadership and knowledge,” she says.

Another attraction to the Defence Force is the financial benefits.

“There are scholarships for all three services and having free education, free dental, free medical, a guaranteed job and a student wage is one of the main reasons people look to the Defence Force,” Major La Galle says.

And both Group Captain Paterson and Major La Galle both point out that it isn’t a life long commitment.

“You are not locked in for life so if you are interested it’s well worth looking at our website or talking to a recruitment officer,” Group Captain Paterson says. However, he says, it is worth mentioning you do have to be comfortable holding, and using, a weapon.

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