In the spotlight is a series highlighting local unsung heroes in the community who might otherwise go unseen in the course of every day life.
Phoebe Hammonds has returned to Katherine to study midwifery, following in her mother’s footsteps.
Already trained as a nurse, 26-year-old Phoebe Hammonds thought she would never have the opportunity to return to the town she was born in.
But when a too-good-to-be true studying opportunity, which allowed her to learn on the job, became available at Katherine Hospital, she didn’t hesitate to take it.
Working in the same hospital, and the same ward as her mother has provided endless opportunities to share similar experiences.
“I was born in this hospital, went to school here in Katherine and now I work with people who worked with my mum. It is a pretty special experience,” Ms Hammonds said.
“I saw my mum in a secure career with lots of opportunities for travel and different specialties. I know it is not that original to follow what she is doing, but I am not looking back.
“Being a Katherine local, coming back and seeing another side of the town has been great, I find myself much more useful working here and being able to understand people’s lives.
“Things like patient travel and understanding where people have come from. Knowing about all the different services around, it is very beneficial,” she said.
While her mother was interested in Indigenous health, Ms Hammonds is on the maternity ward – not for the biggest moment in a lot of women’s lives – but the before and after.
“It was a privileged to see my first birth,” she said, “but it is not the reason I go back every day.”
“I never wanted to do midwifery to see babies be born. There are so many people who say they just love babies and all they want to see is a birth,” she said.
“I didn’t get that spine tingling feeling, although I definitely appreciated it.
“I got into midwifery because I think you can have just as much an impact in antenatal and postnatal care.
“You hear from women that in classes you learn all about the actual birth, but know nothing about parenting when the baby is born. I think that is where I can have a real impact in their mothering,” she said.
Ms Hammonds is just days away from finishing her two year midwifery course at Katherine Hospital.
She came back to Katherine in March 2017 through a CDU employed model program, which means she gets paid to work on the ward while studying in the NT.
“Through this model, you receive more hands on training and more placement because work doubles as study,” she said.
“The Government pays for my HECS, there was nothing to lose, just huge gains in what I could potentially learn,” she said.
The program provides continuity as well as a fast track to full time employment.
“I’m gaining constant exposure rather than a six week block of placement scattered through the course.
“You’re thrown into the deep end in a sense so you have to learn pretty quickly. Although there is a tonne of support,” she said.
And there are perks in working at a smaller hospital such as Katherine Hospital, as the nurses have time to build personal connections with the soon-to-be mothers, Ms Hammonds said.
Ms Hammonds’ day starts promptly at 7am with a hand over.
Patients are divided between the nurses, and as the hospital is on the smaller side, there is emphasis placed on ongoing patient care.
“You could be anywhere, you could be in the clinic, in the ward in the birth sweet, the theater, you don’t really know what you are going to get when you come on any hospital ward.
“In the birth suite we could be doing a delivery or a caesarean, or preparing someone for birth.
“I love learning from women about their different experiences, perspectives and life experiences. That is a privilege.
Following exams, Ms Hammonds is planning to stay and work at the Katherine Hospital until February. After that she will start a graduate position in Darwin where there will likely be a higher flow of patients.
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