For Epworth Eastern nurse Barb Roberts, a career in healthcare was a no-brainer. 

Her father set up The Alfred hospital’s first human resources department in the 70s. Years later, Mrs Roberts did casual clerical work at The Alfred while on school holidays.

However, she was not interested in becoming a nurse, until her father had a heart attack.

“Dad was always keen that I would be a nurse and I never had any interest until he was sick and I saw a bit of what they did,” Mrs Roberts said.

Graduating from the one of the early Bachelor of Nursing programs, she started at Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1995. She advanced to critical care nursing, working at several hospitals.

After 20 years Mrs Roberts became jaded by the system.

“Morale was down, my blood pressure was through the roof and I just felt sick going to work.”

She became a bookkeeper and did some medical transcription work.

Last year, the mother of Mrs Roberts become unwell and was admitted to hospital. Unhappy with the standard of care she was receiving, Mrs Roberts moved her mum to Epworth Eastern where she was diagnosed with pneumonia, an infection and a fracture.

“When mum was crying out in pain in Epworth, the nurse rushed in and said she was going to sort that out and ordered some pain relief straight away.”

“I just relaxed and burst into tears. Happy tears. Another nurse rushed in to make sure I was okay too,” Mrs Roberts said.

Witnessing the standard of care provided to her mum, Mrs Roberts fell in love with nursing again – she remembered how good her original profession could be.

About the same time, AHPRA, the national agency responsible for regulating healthcare professionals, announced an easing of restrictions for people to return to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mrs Roberts undertook some refresher training and is now working as a nurse in Epworth Eastern. 

Kerry May, Executive General Manager, Epworth Eastern has a policy of having a morning tea for all new staff.

Mrs Roberts was shocked, as it was the first time in 20 years, she has been introduced to a hospital executive.

“I had morning tea with Kerry. That was incredibly foreign. I had never met anyone in senior management. It is gobsmacking. She even paid for coffee for all of us.” “I am very, very happy.”

Mrs Roberts works in endoscopy at Epworth Eastern.  The hospital will have a dedicated endoscopy unit when the Epworth Eastern redevelopment begins a staged opening later this year.

“All of the staff in the endoscopy team have been incredibly supportive and welcoming. It is wonderful to be back nursing again,” she said.


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