I cannot remember a time in my nursing career when Elle was not my friend. Our 4-decade friendship has supported, sustained, and comforted me throughout my career. There have been many laughs and tears along the way as we have traversed our careers and lives while navigating the highs and lows.
We all need a friend that has our back. The person who gets you, someone you lean on and leans on you and who lends their ear in good times and bad. Elle is my nursing friend who does all that and so much more.
Friendship is about many things-at its core it is the person who listens without judgement, offers support, and provides unconditional care. It also helps when they crochet you a rug, bake you a cake and roar with laughter at your jokes! Elle is the best listener I know-intuitive, compassionate, thoughtful, and non-judgemental.
My first mentor
When I met Elle in 1984, I was on my second ward rotation-an enthusiastic, naïve, bright eyed, first-year student nurse at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. Elle was that standout registered nurse who had me at hello. I was drawn to Elle’s intelligence, willingness to share knowledge, and skills.
I admired her sharp geometric jet-black hair (remember, haircuts of the 1980s) and was drawn to her kindness. I soon learned that if I could not locate Elle to report a change in a patient’s condition or ask a question, I would find her with a patient- listening, observing, and quietly caring for them.
No question was too stupid, request for help refused or opportunity to educate students missed. Elle was my first professional mentor, this relationship led to our enduring friendship sustained by a love of nursing, passion for caring, joy of cooking (particularly cakes), big belly laughs and busting hilarious moves on a dance floor.
An incredible nurse and advocate
Elle is a natural nurse: intelligent, intuitive, compassionate, a keen observer-responsive to every need and change in a patient’s condition- advocating for them when they cannot do so for themselves.
It has been a privilege for me to work with Elle many times throughout our long careers. We studied critical care nursing together, worked on wards, in intensive care units and aged care facilities together. We have played cards (me badly), shared books we loved, debated, and discussed the issues of the day, drank a few cocktails, and sat on the 1986 picket line for far too long to improve conditions and support for nurses.
When I got the job at Nurse & Midwife Support, I phoned Elle to reconnect and share the exciting news that a service we had often wished for over the years was finally launching.
Elle and I had not caught up for a while and I knew intuitively we needed to talk. We picked up where we had left off, drank tea, ate cake, shared updates, stories, and tears. Elle had worked in Intensive Care for over 25 years, an area she loved, but was ready for a change.
We discussed career paths and the importance of support for nurses and midwives, and I suggested Elle consider applying for a position being advertised at Nurse and Midwife Support. I had no role in the recruitment, so I just had to wait and hope while it played out.
I was delighted when I heard from Elle that she had been successful in becoming part of the team! These days Elle is the senior clinician at NM Support, and I am privileged to work alongside her supporting nurses, midwives, and students. It is a joy and privilege to work with a friend.