Clinician profile - Elle Brown

Elle Brown
Elle is part of our nursing and midwifery team that answers calls and emails. She is a registered nurse with 36 years’ experience.
How long have you been a nurse or midwife?
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Photo of ElleI started nursing in 1981, completing a Diploma of Applied Science in Nursing at the Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences. I was in one of the very first intakes of tertiary educated nursing, instead of hospital based training. University taught nursing is now commonplace, but at the time it was new and it felt good to be a pioneer.

Why did you become a nurse?
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My mother had been a nurse and a midwife. She worked in a bush hospital for a while, where she met my father, and as was the way back then, stopped nursing when she had a family.

I had settled on being a nurse and had even applied for hospital placed programs. My mum had a chat with our family GP about it (he was an old school, hard-bitten country GP), and he said that tertiary education was the future of nursing. Looking back, it seems surprising that he recommended this, but I am glad that I followed his advice. 

What areas of nursing have you worked in?
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For the first 10 years I worked mainly on medical wards, including respiratory, neuro and gynaecological surgical. The nature of chronic disease meant that I saw people throughout their illness, and I felt it was comforting to them to regularly see nurses who they knew and trusted. I enjoyed the diversity of nursing during this time.

After this I did critical care nursing for 25 years, as a clinician and in management roles. While critical care nursing might not be for everyone, the ability to give patients and their families constant care and attention, and working to return people to an acceptable quality of life, really suited me. Each day I learned something about myself, the world or intensive care.

Why do you work at NM Support?
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I’ve had a career in nursing for 36 years and this is an opportunity to give back to the profession. It’s such a privilege to help the people who call us, especially because nurses and midwives don’t usually ask for very much, but deserve a lot!

I am also enjoying being part of the counselling team. We all come from different streams within nursing and midwifery, have different backgrounds, but all have a similar viewpoint. We all teach and learn from each other. 

What types of calls do you receive?
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We speak to people from all over Australia about anything that may be affecting them. This includes workplace stress, relationship problems (both professional and personal), letters of notification, needing to debrief after a hard shift, alcohol and other drug problems and mental health issues.

Quite often people will say “I don’t know if you can help me with this” and our approach is to always give it a go. It’s natural for people to want to vent to someone who isn’t their nearest and dearest. There is never a question or topic that we will find strange; we are all nurses or midwives so we understand. 

How do you keep your stress under control?
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Exercise is important for me. I really enjoy going for fast paced walks. I always listen to music when walking as it clears my mind and helps me ‘live in the moment’. If I can’t leave the house, I get on the treadmill or walk around the house to reach my target of 10,000 steps per day.

After walking, I practice meditation and mindfulness to help relax.

To meditate, I follow led meditation through an app. I’m currently using Buddhify and find it really helpful. There are lots of meditation apps available. I recommend that you try a few and choose one that works for you.

Baking, reading and knitting also help me relax. I recommend choosing an activity that makes you happy so that you have relief from the mundane aspects of life.

It’s important to consciously allocate time out of your day for yourself. You might be thinking “I don’t have time to do that”, but that won’t help you de-stress.  You may even find that taking some time out each day will leave you feeling refreshed and more productive for the remainder of the day.

Final Thoughts
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Please don’t hesitate to call us. There is no question too big or small and we are happy to answer them all. If we don’t know the answer, we will find out, and everything you say to us is completely confidential. We are available 24/7 on 1800 667 877.