Podcast: Celebrating nursing friendships with story competition winner Melinda Jesudason

NMS Podcast
Melinda Jesudason joins the Your Health Matters podcast to tell the story of her three-decade friendship with colleague Hester.


Podcast details

Guest: Melinda Jesudason
Duration: 14:43
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.

Melinda (left) with her friend Hester (right)
Melinda (left) with her friend Hester (right)

We’re here to support you through the stressful times too. Give us a call on 1800 667 877 or email us.

About Melinda Jesudason


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.