In 2017, Pippa Kensit was awarded the Zonta Club of Sydney Award for The National Council of Women of NSW Australia Day Prize for Outstanding Leadership, Health Advocacy and Commitment to a Career in Nursing. She also became a member of The Zonta Club of Sydney, where she impressed all our members with her commitment to service and advocacy, as well as the numerous projects she had already been involved with! Here, she shares some of her story with us.
ZCS – Tell us about your nursing degree and your experiences and interests in that area.
PK – In 2015 I commenced my Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). UTS is currently the leading university in Nursing in the Southern Hemisphere, highly renowned for its state of the art clinical facilities, innovative learning and empathetic nursing education. My experience at UTS was fantastic. I had wonderful mentors and tutors encouraging me to go above and beyond and pushing me to achieve beyond required expectations. I also was fortunate enough to undertake a number of unique and highly specialised clinical placements including two remote placements in Alice Springs and Broken Hill in surgical and emergency nursing respectively, a rural block in Goulburn in acute inpatient mental health, paediatric inpatient, metropolitan emergency at Hornsby as well as time with Air Ambulance NSW in my final year, just to name a few. Such experiences opened my eyes to specialisations and highly influenced my chosen path in nursing – rural and remote, and indigenous health.
Throughout my time at UTS I was also fortunate enough to receive the UTS Alumni Scholarship for Community Service and Leadership as well as the Rural Undergraduate Scholarship. In my final year I was received The Zonta Club of Sydney Award for The National Council of Women of NSW Australia Day Prize for Outstanding Leadership, Health Advocacy and Commitment to a Career in Nursing. The exposure these opportunities created have been mind-blowing, I am still utterly speechless and proud.
These experiences and my invaluable time at UTS shaped my decision to apply for a New Graduate Nursing position in Far West NSW working with rural, remote and Indigenous communities in various clinical roles. My passion was not only derived from my clinical experience during my study but was also stimulated by my childhood upbringing in rural NSW. I have experienced, witnessed and now worked clinically as a registered nurse in the rural and remote context which have all contributed to my passion to alleviate disparities among this marginalised population. Although it may only be relative, poverty does exist in Australia, especially relating to access to and service delivery of healthcare. Thus, my decision to work as a rural and remote nurse is just one part in my pursuit to make a positive social change in society today.
ZCS – What attracted you to Zonta?
PK – I first heard of Zonta when I checked my email during my drive to Alice Spring for a clinical placement in 2016. When reading about the Zonta Australia Day prize and the work of Zonta to empower women through service and advocacy, I felt immediately compelled to enquire further. In receiving this prize, I have developed lifelong connections and an affiliation with Zonta, an incredible and very humbling organisation. The hugely influential and inspiring women associated with Zonta have played a huge role in my personal and professional development and for that I am hugely grateful.
I believe it was the work of Zonta, both globally and locally working together to achieve a common goal to empower women of all ages and backgrounds, and the genuine interest in service that engaged me initially. I have personally undertaken a substantial amount of volunteer work both locally and abroad and am stimulated by not only giving back but by learning about and experiencing culture, society and inequalities on a tangible level. This seemed to ring true when reading about Zonta and I felt this was for me.
ZCS – What are you currently up to?
PK – I am currently working as a Registered Nurse in a remote Indigenous community in Far West NSW called Wilcannia. This year I have undertaken my New Graduate Nursing Year rotating every four months around areas of Far West NSW including Ivanhoe, Broken Hill and Wilcannia. The three four month rotations have been great. I have had the chance to develop skills in remote emergency care, community nursing, family and children’s nursing, medical nursing, palliative care, aged care, primary healthcare and health promotion initiatives, education including presenting at the Centralised Remote Area Education teleconferencing to the Far West Local Health District, practice nursing alongside the Royal Flying Doctors, undertaking “roo runs” to ensure the plane lands and takes off safely as well as mental health nursing prominent in all nursing. Throughout the year I have lived in nursing quarters either on my own in remote communities or shared with 50-60 others in Broken Hill.
Having endured the harder days, I feel extremely proud of myself to have toughed it out. Rural and remote nursing is hugely rewarding, enormously stimulating and provides challenges unique to all other parts of nursing. I have gained skills ranging from pre-birth and paediatrics right through to end of life care. I have worked alongside incredible organisations and clinicians including the Royal Flying Doctors and some very experience bush nurses. Throughout the year I have also met some beautiful friends from all walks of life and developed signification professional and personal ties.
ZCS- Tell us about the United Nations University Scholars experience in Bangkok.
PK – From the 1st to the 7th of August 2018, I was selected by Humanitarian Affairs Asia to represent Australia and essentially the University of Tasmania and Far West LHD, as a delegate at the United Nations University Scholars Leadership Symposium (UN USLS) at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. The Symposium saw over 1000 Delegates from over 87 countries come together to learn, inspire, challenge and debate current and potential societal issues facing the world today. Delegates from far and wide came from political, socio-economic, legal, engineering, healthcare and medical as well as education backgrounds, all studying at varying levels at University. Paramount to the Symposium were the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals created to address the global challenges contemporary society faces including poverty, inequality climate, environmental degradation, prosperity and justice. The United Nations goal is to achieve these goals by 2030, leaving no one goal behind in the process.
The conference comprised of key note speakers including Professor Kishore Mahbubani (Former President of United Nations Security Council), Professional Ian Jacobs (President and Vice-Chancellor UNSW, Australia), Geraldine Cox (President and Founder, Sunrise Cambodia) as well as David Begbie (Founder Crossroads Foundation, Hong Kong) among many other influential global speakers. USLS also facilitated interactive workshop sessions with the United Nations Population Fund, United Nations Women, International Organisation for Migration as well as the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia among various other United Nations and international agencies.
Aside from the hugely influential speakers and exhibitions the conference presented, delegates had the invaluable opportunity to build relationships, connect and network with like-minded delegates, event organisers and members of the United Nations workforce throughout the week abroad. My goal was to spark conversation and raise awareness about the unique struggles, needs and positive movements occurring in regard to rural and remote health. The response of fellow delegates in regard to the work I am doing was fascinating. Not only was I shocked to see and hear how many local Australian delegates and members of the global community were so unfamiliar with healthcare and life in the “outback” but was also humbled to see how intrigued and proud people were to see on-ground action and experience being shared at event like the USLS. As a budding healthcare professional, I hope to capitalise on the connections built abroad and do my best to share the knowledge, insight, awareness and understanding of the social movements our societies youth are embracing and ultimately create sustainable social change for a better society and environment. After all, healthcare is integral to building a better future for all, eliminating inequality and closing gaps in disparity among society.
ZCS – So what is next for you?
PK – Just recently I have been accepted into a dual Masters at the University of NSW to study a Masters of International Public Health/Masters Public Health (extension). I plan to work part time in a metropolitan hospital and manage my study simultaneously. I am determined to not lose my clinical skills and keep my foot in the door in remote health. While studying I would like to continue doing locum work in remote communities and maintain the strong personal and professional relationships I have gained during this year.
In studying my Masters, I hope to gain a louder voice and be an active part of creating sustainable social and healthcare change both locally and abroad. I have always believed that prevention is better than cure and that with sustainable policy and initiative implementation that translates and utilises practice, positive future change may occur. I am passionate about developing these skills in relation to rural and remote and indigenous health as well as that of the developing world on a larger scale.