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Saturday, July 31, 2010 THE AGE
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Careers in Community and Welfare
Bringing hope to
FROM LEFT: Tracy Beaton, senior nurse advisor, and Monika Swiatkowski, unit manager of the Child Inpatient
Unit at Austin Health.
By ANDREW ETHERD
Within the nursing profession
there are many specialities,
each with its own attractions,
but mental health nursing stands
alone, unique in its skills, challenges
''It is about working with people,''
says senior nurse advisor Tracy Beaton.
''You find something quite special by
interacting with people at a time in
their lives when they need someone to
''The beauty of being a mental
health nurse is that you are able to
develop a relationship where there is
mutual understanding about the
experience. It is about being attuned to
that person and being willing to talk
with them. Or to not talk with them,
the skill is that you are responsive to
their vulnerability and their
Communication and engagement
are at the heart of mental health
nursing, Ms Beaton says. ''It is through
therapeutic engagement that the
patient experiences acceptance, hope,
understanding and experiences being
cared about and looked after.
''We see all sorts of things and work
with people in all sorts of ways, but the
main focus is about ensuring that they
have a relationship that is trustworthy.
''Care in the community is about
helping people with their life goals, we
make sure they are doing okay,
monitor their mood and mental state.
But you can only do that if you have a
relationship, if they will let you.''
Monika Swiatkowski has progressed
from graduate nurse to specialising in
child psychiatry, and also had some
time in CATT and Nursing Education.
She has recently been appointed as the
unit manager of the Child Inpatient
Unit at Austin Health.
''I was not sure what area of nursing
I wanted to go into,'' she says. ''A lot of
my peers were very closed to the idea
of studying mental health. I went into
it with my eyes open and with a
willingness to learn. It is not just about
working in mental health, even in
general nursing you are going to have
people with mental illnesses anyway. I
absolutely loved it, the way it was
taught to us and having my rotations
out at Dandenong Hospital, it suited
me and my personality.''
''There's no better feeling than being
able to sit down, talk to a patient,
know that they have some insight into
what is happing for them, they know
they have support around them, and
that you are providing that support.
''I work in an inpatient unit, so when
we discharge patients we can say
goodbye to them and know that they
have taken something really positive
from our service, and you know they
are going to be on the right track. It is
a real reward to work with them.''
Mental health nursing is not for
everyone, Ms Beaton says.
''Some people just take to it, they
come in and say 'this is for me'. You
need a willingness to think about
psychological distress, to try and
understand behaviour, to have some
sense of what it is about and how you
If you feel you might be on the right
wavelength, you can find information
about careers in mental health or apply
for jobs in Victoria by visiting
Courses now available for our mid year intake at very competive rates. Course
delivery options include face to face and distance learning anywhere in Australia.
Employment opportunites upon completion have never been more promising.
Ask about our special funding - Parents returning to work to see if you
qualify as well.
For further information please call our office where staff will gladly answer any of your questions.
Aged Care College
Centre of Excellence in Health Education
Interested to work in the
Community Care, Aged Care and Hospitals?
Certificate III HACC and/or Certificate III Disability
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