Guest: Melinda Jesudason
Tags: friendship, collegiality, story competition
Soundcloud: Listen to Episode 34
We are delighted to introduce the winner of our story competition celebrating nursing friendships. Competition winner and registered nurse Melinda Jesudason joins us on the podcast to discuss her friendship with fellow nurse Hester and share her winning poem.
Read the poem: Hester and Mel — Three Decades of Friendship
Mel’s poem honours and acknowledges the importance of the friendship of a peer who understands the complexity of her work and expresses gratitude for the support Hester offers.
The past few years have been difficult for all nurses. It’s our friendships that will help us get through. We’re celebrating that in this episode of the podcast and the next with midwife story competition winner Leanne O’Connor.
We’re here to support you through the stressful times too. Give us a call on 1800 667 877 or email us.
Melinda is a Registered Nurse and Wellbeing Officer with Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU). She has previously worked as a Community Nurse, Nurse Educator, Nurse Manager, Research Coordinator, Immunisation Nurse, and Wellness Coach. Melinda’s thirty-year career has focussed on community nursing and health promotion, including work in homelessness and refugee and asylum seeker programs. Her post-graduate studies, including her Graduate Diploma and Masters, focussing on women's health, health promotion, and public health, support her passion for health equity.
Melinda's commitment to health equity and social justice has also led to her volunteering in health education and assessment roles in Solomon Islands and Myanmar (Burma). She continues to work with marginalised people in a personal, volunteer capacity in her hometown of Brisbane.
Melinda’s work in recent years as a Wellbeing Officer with QNMU focuses on supporting nurses and midwives and encouraging self-care and self-compassion — essential qualities in the demanding and rewarding professions of nursing and midwifery.
Mark Aitken [0:09] Welcome to the Nurse & Midwife Support podcast: Your Health Matters. I'm Mark Aitken, the podcast host. I'm the Stakeholder Engagement Manager with Nurse & Midwife Support, and I'm a registered nurse. Nurse & Midwife Support is the national support service for nurses, midwives and students. The service is anonymous, confidential and free, and you can call us anytime you need support. 1800-667-877, or contact us via the website: nmsupport.org.au.
Hello, and welcome to the Nurse & Midwife Support podcast. It is my pleasure to announce the winner of the Nurse & Midwife Support 2022 Story Competition, celebrating the friendship of nurses and the support those friends provide us. The winner is Melinda Jesudason with her story, 'Hester and Mel – Three Decades of Friendship.'
Congratulations, and welcome to the podcast, Mel.
Melinda Jesudason [1:18] Thank you, Mark, it is good to be here.
Mark Aitken [1:21] It's great to have you on the podcast today and to celebrate your win in this story competition that we love. At Nurse & Midwife Support we love hearing the stories of nurses and midwives and we love telling those stories. So we're absolutely delighted you shared your wonderful story with us, Mel.
Could you tell our listeners a bit about yourself, Mel, and your friendship with Hester?
Melinda Jesudason [1:49] Sure, Mark. It was a delight to get your phone call that I'd won. Thank you. I let my friend Hester whom I wrote this poem about know, and she was also delighted. I wrote it when the competition asked for some stories about friendship. I've been really lucky in my nursing career to have worked alongside some wonderful colleagues and still have that now today in my role as well, being an officer at QNMU. But Hester came to mind because she and I met way back in our early career, in our training, and we clicked and since then, we've supported each other and been friends for, as my poem is titled, three decades. So it was an immediate thought that Hester was the one that I wanted to celebrate and honour in this competition.
Mark Aitken [2:38] How wonderful, Mel. It's so important, I think, that we honour and we celebrate the incredible work and gift of friendship that we get from nurses and midwives in our lives, and I think your poem does that very, very well. So what does your friendship with Hester mean to you?
Melinda Jesudason [2:59] Well, I think all of us who are nurses and midwives acknowledge we go into this profession because we love what we do. You don't enter it for the money or the fame or accolades, we go in because we love it. But it can be a really challenging choice of profession and it can be hard to do the job, day in and out, that we do as nurses and midwives. Having someone alongside you that understands the role as a support that you can debrief with, and having someone who is your go-to, your backup person, Hester has been that for me in my whole nursing career. Even though we haven't worked together, we've had very different career paths, but just having that friendship and that support, I think all nurses and midwives need that in every capacity of our job. So yeah, I wanted to acknowledge and celebrate and recognize the importance of that for nurses and midwives.
Mark Aitken [3:56] Absolutely. Really beautifully said, thanks Melinda. I'll get you now to read your poem, and share the wonderful story of friendship that you wrote about in this poem. Thank you very much.
Melinda Jesudason [4:13] I've entitled it, Hester and Mel – Three Decades of Friendship.
To nurse is to care and to bring better health
And well-being to all who need this
Promotion of health, prevention of illness
And respect for the breast and the penis
For a nurse is professional but also can smile
In care for a patient and family
Responding to pain of the body or mind
With insight that’s almost uncanny
To care with compassion for those most in need
Nurses need friends and support
And who better to grasp this life choice and career
Than those in the nursing cohort
For me, this support first started at Uni
As a cautious new student of nursing
Here were my people, sharing the journey
With laughter, tears, joy and some cursing
But one trainee RN stood out from the start
Our fates would be soon intertwined
We supported each other through pracs and exams
With hugs, prayer, vodka and wine
This friend was unique - Hester her name
Already an EN with skills
It was Hester that taught me ‘real’ nursing
More than the lectures and lab drills
For Hester had worked and cared for true patients
She’d been in the blood and the gore
This just fuelled her passion to help those in need
So she came back to Uni for more
I, however, was fresh out of high school
Quite clueless, young and naive
But I wrote great assignments and found getting good grades
Was always a breeze to achieve
So I’d help with exams and teach Hes the theory
She’d reward me with chocolate and wine
Hester would teach me nursing reality
Our skills sets did aptly align
We made a great team with our mutual support
And Uni was actually fun
The pracs were the greatest with Hes by my side
Our final year placement, the best one
We went to Emerald at Hester's suggestion
A rural, north Queensland town
We learnt much in this small, country hospital
While avoiding the NUM with a frown
For she didn’t appreciate these city girls
Who wanted to explore country life
After shifts we’d play footy with the local ambos,
Visit gemfields and pubs with the midwife
We graduated Uni with a sense of relief
And our friendship was stronger then ever
Our support for each other always remained
Though we never did work together
Hester loved ED with the chaos and pressure
And she would become triage queen
While I loved the autonomy and holistic approach
of work in community nursing
We travelled the world, for nurses are loved
In Oz and across land and sea
I studied some more, got a grad dip and masters
While Hester got pregnant and had a baby
This beautiful baby named Dominique
Was strong willed, joyous, alive
Dom is my god-daughter and oh, so loved
This bundle of joy, now twenty-five
I also had babies and married a good man
Whom Hester approves of completely
My husband and daughters love Hester and Dom
They fit into my family so neatly
Our friendship has lasted through life's ups and downs
Including some major health scares
But the struggles and pain are a little less awful
With a friend who supports and cares
We both still love nursing and both still are working
Despite some burnout and breakdown
But with age comes wisdom and better self care
Supporting each other to slow down
So we keep on doing the job that we love
Although it can come with frustration
For we know with support we can keep caring
And this brings both peace and elation
To nurse is to care and to bring better health
And well-being to all who need this
And nurses supported with a friendship like mine
Can happily hope to achieve this
Mark Aitken [8:10] Thanks very much, Mel. Beautifully read and a beautiful poem and celebration, an honouring of your wonderful friendship with Hester. Thank you, it was such a joy to hear that poem read by you after I'd read it myself several times.
Melinda Jesudason [8:30] Thanks, Mark.
Mark Aitken [8:32] I'm really interested, Mel, in your work as the Wellbeing Officer with the Queensland Nurses (and Midwives) Union because in that poem you've written, you speak about the importance of friendship in relation to supporting our health and wellbeing. I imagine that something you're promoting in your role at the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union as you promote health and well being?
Melinda Jesudason [8:59] Exactly right, Mark, and you would have a very good understanding of this with the Nurse & Midwife Support organisation as well. But I'm so privileged to be in a role where my job is to do exactly that, support nurses and midwives, having an understanding of being in this profession. It's such a privilege and the union of course, is a wonderful organisation that is made up of members. So members are the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union.
As well as the roles of protection, information and advice and supporting union members to make changes in their own workplace—and again, you need to do this with your colleagues and you need to do this together—I love that QNMU has recognized the importance of wellbeing, specifically. Alongside all those other practical things that the union can support members to do, they recognize that wellbeing, health, self-care and self-compassion are really important and that we need to invest, as I know you're aware, we need to invest in our nurses and our midwives and support them in that way.
Within my role, I get to do a lot of different things, but my job is that very thing, supporting nurses in terms of their wellbeing. Often that's one-on-one individualised support, sometimes it's referring to appropriate other services, including yours, Nurse & Midwife Support. We also facilitate a mentoring program, because we think it's really important that nurses are able to learn and benefit from each other. So we have a platform where people can become a mentor or mentee and support each other in that way. We also have capacity for people to link in if they're interested in supporting refugees and asylum seekers as nurses. And we have a platform for supporting the environment, in terms of the impacts of that on healthcare. So we've got a lot of avenues!
A lot of what I do is really encouraging nurses and midwives to look after themselves in the same way that they invest in patients, because we're very good at advocating, fighting and working for our patients, but as nurses and midwives we're not always so good at doing that for ourselves. So a big part of that is making sure that we're encouraging and giving some opportunities for that to happen for the people we're supporting.
Mark Aitken [11:21] Mel, all of us as nurses and midwives have many friendships in our nursing and midwifery careers, and in our current roles. I believe you have a friendship in your current role and you'd like to give a shout out to that person?
Melinda Jesudason [11:39] Oh, thank you, Mark. Yes, as a wellbeing officer I job share with Janet Bailey, and that is also a friendship that I'm incredibly grateful for. Janet also has such a passion to assist our members and to assist with their health and wellbeing and the role was started by Janet, four years ago now, when I came in to job share. As well as being a role we both [find] a privilege to do, we also support each other.
Sometimes it can be difficult, some of the work that we do, as is the case for many nurses and midwives, and we have each other to debrief and to laugh, to support and have each other's back. It makes such a difference to the workplace and the work of nurses and midwives. It is something I would like, all nurses and midwives everywhere to have that friendship and that support. But yeah, I'm very grateful that I have that in my role at QNMU. Thanks, Janet!
Mark Aitken [12:35] Thanks, Mel, lovely celebration and honouring of another friendship. Bring it on, I say, let's celebrate all great friendships between nurses and midwives, because where would we be without them? That's wonderful, Mel, so great to hear the important work you're doing. Of course, that's exactly what we're in the business of doing at Nurse & Midwife Support, as you've said. So if you're out there listening to this, please look after yourselves and each other. Your health is important. As our tagline and the title of this podcast states, Your Health Matters. Your health really does matter, and it's vitally important as the prolonged pandemic has challenged the health and wellbeing of nurses and midwives in so many ways.
If you need support, Nurse & Midwife Support is available 24/7, no matter where you are in Australia. The service is anonymous, confidential and free, and you can contact us anytime for support. 1800-667-877, or via the website, nmsupport.org.au.
And I hope, as it has for me, that Melinda's story has inspired you to write, and I'd love to hear from you. So if you've got a story to tell, and so many nurses and midwives do, please get in touch with me, Mark at nmsupport.org.au. I'd love to hear from you and I'd love to share your story. Thanks again Mel for that wonderful poem and story, and sharing it with our listeners. Look after yourselves and each other everyone, your health really does matter. I'll speak to you next time.