Though they have now arrived in the same place, the journeys that Orbost Regional Health nurses Dan Samarakoon and Zoe Jenkins took to get here could not have been more different.
Zoe is the local. Born in the very same hospital in which she now works, Zoe was raised and schooled in Orbost, well known to the people of all ages she sees at the hospital or down the main street.
For Zoe, who is now a fully-fledged Registered Nurse after completing her studies and placements in Orbost and Bairnsdale, this moment marks the fulfillment of an ambition she’s had since she was little.
“I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” she says with a smile. Why? “I think I just really like people. I love getting to know people, having the time to listen and talk to people. So much of nursing is just about sitting and listening to people, and I love that about the work.”
Dan’s story is different.
Born and raised on the outskirts of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, Dan’s original career pathway was in business and finance.
After emigrating to Australia out of school, he worked in retail sales.
But it didn’t take long for him to realise that his heart wasn’t in it.
“It just didn’t make me feel very alive, you know?” he said. “I guess I wanted to be able to do more for people.”
And so, living in Melbourne, stuck in a job he didn’t love, he decided he needed to make a change.
“I was a big change, yeah,” he admits with a chuckle. “And the study was hard. But from the first moment I walked onto a ward I knew I’d made the right decision.”
“Caring for people just makes you feel very happy. They are so thankful. I feel good about doing this work - I think about it as I’m about to go to sleep every night.”
Dan says a big reason for feeling good about his new career is the support he’s received from the staff at ORH.
“I asked a million questions, I still do, but every single person here always has the time for me, always takes the time to help me. I’ve felt very supported.”
“It’s one of the best things about a country hospital like Orbost. I did some placements in Melbourne and it was just so flat out that there really wasn’t time to stop and talk. But here, it’s more relaxed, there’s more time. People want to help you.”
“It’s one of the things I love about this place - you get to talk to people. You get to know the patients, you get to know the staff, it’s nice. That’s being a nurse in a small community.”
What now? Both Zoe and Dan are excited about the opportunities they are already getting as new nurses.
“It’s really cool that the theatre will be opening again soon,” Zoe said. (ORH hopes to reopen surgical services toward the end of 2023.) “We’ve already started doing perioperative education, which I’m really excited about. It’s not often that nurses get the opportunity to do that so early in their careers.”
As for Dan, when he first moved to Orbost he was worried whether he’d like it here.
“I thought, oh well, if I miss Melbourne or if I miss my friends I can always drive home on weekends.”
Turns out, he hasn’t been back much. In fact, it’s been his friends that have been coming up here.
“I love camping and fishing, I bought a 4 wheel drive,” he said. “It’s beautiful up here. My friends come up from Melbourne and we’ll go fishing on the Brodribb. It’s been great.”
An old school local, and a soon-to-be local. We’re stoked to have you here, Zoe and Dan.