Cally’s Story: My Nursing Journey

Cally Berryman
Veteran Nurse Cally Berryman is an incredible nurse that has left an indelible mark on nursing and midwifery in Australia throughout her 40 year career. She is a passionate advocate for the health and wellbeing of nurses and midwives and was one of the key team members that developed the Nurse & Midwife Support program from the beginning. She has had a wonderfully varied career and continues to contribute to the profession that she loves. This is her story.
Getting started


I have worked as a registered nurse for over 40 years in the acute, drug and alcohol, rehabilitation, academic and community health nursing areas. I am also a strong advocate for nurses and student nurses, I enjoy the opportunity that working at Nurse & Midwife Support brings me to be able to advocate and give back to this wonderful profession that has given me so much.

I started my nursing career at the Alfred Hospital. In those days we were paid a small amount of money and lived in the Nurses’ home. This was comforting for my mother as she felt I was being supervised and safe. I loved my time with the Alfred Hospital and grew up quickly in the student nurse role. We had a great deal of responsibility even as student nurses. For example, in our 2nd year we were placed ‘in charge’ of rehabilitation wards at Caulfield Hospital as part of our student rotation.

I was in Group T and made several wonderful friends in the group. I am still close to quite a number. I met my husband on a ‘blind date’ when at the Alfred. We are still together, have two children and now grandchildren. The Alfred Hospital has been a wonderful opportunity for me.

Evolving with life and career

Over the next few years family commitments altered my nursing career aspirations. During this time I worked in a part- time capacity in a variety of surgical, medical, geriatric and community positions while raising a family.

An exciting career focus became evident when I worked as a charge nurse at Moreland Hall: a drug and alcohol detox, rehab and counselling facility — where I learnt much about drug and alcohol dependence. I have worked in the drug and alcohol area for over 20 years — including on steering committees, in prisons, community health nursing, as a counsellor, academic and program coordinator and now with Nurse and Midwife Support program.

Finding different passions

Another part of my nursing journey was discovering the area of Acquired Brain Injury. My Master’s thesis Teacher Perspectives: The head injured student returns to mainstream school exposed me to this community issue. I worked in conjunction with a number of organisations to assist students with Acquired Brain Injury to better return to school with adequate supports.

I loved community nursing and working with clients with dependencies. It was an honour to see clients embrace positive changes in their lives. At a later stage I entered academia and loved teaching nurse students. I became the coordinator of Graduate Diploma of Substance Abuse Studies at Victoria University.

Immersing myself in education

I loved teaching nurses and for me it was a natural progression to continue studying and as such I completed my PhD. My PhD topic was Nurses Drug and Alcohol Dependence: Creating understanding. This study started another passion in a different direction. I was motivated to assist nurses with substance abuse issues. As a consequence of my PhD research I was invited to assist in the development of the Nurse Midwives Health Program (NMHP). NMHP is a program for nurses and midwives with drug and alcohol problems that continues to run in Victoria and was an early service that in part lead to the development of Nurse & Midwife Support.

Reinvention is key

One of the wonderful aspects about nursing is that any nurse can reinvent themselves in different nursing areas. The range is truly gobsmacking, nurses are everywhere.

In my case I was fortunate to have experienced medical, surgical, community, drug and alcohol and academic nursing. One major factor is how nurses are educated; the transition of nurses into universities has created enormous advantages for nurses to be true professionals and to be valued as professionals in our own right.

I am currently employed as a nurse counsellor for Nurse and Midwife Support, a role which I really enjoy and has kept me in this career that I love. Nursing is a wonderful journey; it has been such an honour to be surrounded with extraordinary caring nurse colleagues, making a difference to those in our care.

Get in touch

If you’d like to chat to Cally and her amazing colleagues about issues you might be facing in your career, give us a call on 1800 667 877 or email us.