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Karenlee Hess | Remote Nurse Practitioner

Nurse Practitioner Karenlee Hess moved to the Territory for work, only intending to stay for three months. 13 years on, she now calls the Territory home and works within a  supportive, multidisciplinary team to deliver primary healthcare in remote NT communities.

When Queensland nurse practitioner Karenlee Hess moved to the Northern Territory for work, she had only intended to stay for three months.

Almost 13 years on, she now calls the NT home and remains stimulated by the professional challenges that the healthcare industry offers her. “There’s a rich sense of culture in the remote Aboriginal communities,” she says.

“I am fortunate to work in this environment and a diverse healthcare setting.”

Growing up on her family’s beef cattle property near the rural town of Maclagan, Hess started her nursing career in a country hospital in the Darling Downs.
“I had a wonderful mentorship and was encouraged to do the Rural and Isolated Practice Registered Nurse (RIPRN) course. It enhanced my nursing confidence and capability, and provided a natural transition to working as a remote area nurse and then, a nurse practitioner in the NT,” Hess says.

“My role is embedded as part of a supportive, multidisciplinary team to deliver primary healthcare in the remote communities of the NT.” While working in remote areas can be challenging, Hess says it’s more frequently rewarding.

“The people, the culture and the lifestyle is so wonderful and unique, and the NT provides professional opportunities not often experienced by many nurses.”

The Territory’s strong, growing economy and low unemployment rate is turbo-charged, meaning qualified staff wanting to work in remote healthcare across the NT can find a job. Labour force data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the NT’s unemployment rate in April was 3.8 per cent, down from 5.6 per cent in March, with unemployment falling by 1800 people.

Many leading NT Health experts are encouraging Queensland healthcare workers to make the move to the Territory, offering a fast-paced economy and a laid-back lifestyle. Benefits of healthcare jobs include exposure to virtual care and remote clinical support and working with our First Nations people to make a difference in primary healthcare and chronic disease management. Jeff Gaden, Deputy Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer at NT Health, says there are boundless opportunities for nurses and midwives to kickstart their careers. “Nurses and midwives are passionate and intelligent. If you like people and want a job where the difference you can make is in front of you every day then come join us.”

“The NT has always been known for giving people a go and we back that up with good education support and development.”

A physiotherapist with over 35 years of experience, Heather Malcolm, now Chief Allied Health Advisor at NT Health, made the move from South Australia to the Territory. “I was attracted by an opportunity to work with a colleague to develop the services available to the community of Darwin during the 1990s,” she says.

“The diversity of my current role is awesome. I love that I am able to be involved in planning and provide advice for the wide range of professions under allied health.” Allied health professionals are needed in a number of areas. These include pharmacists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, medical radiographers and sonographers.

“Strategic priorities to strengthen primary and preventative health care present even more opportunities to expand the number of allied health professions employed such as podiatrists, psychologists and dietitians as well as allied health assistant workforce,” Heather says. As a Medical Advisor for NT Health, Karen Stringer says there are many opportunities within the medical sector, from junior doctors and registrars to hospital and rural medical specialists. “The culture is welcoming and supportive and you will find you are rapidly embraced as one of our own,” she says. “Either a short or longer stay, it is worth it.”

“The culture is welcoming and supportive and you will find you are rapidly embraced as one of our own,”

The NT is known for its tropical weather, rich indigenous culture, national parks and laid-back lifestyle. “I particularly love the outdoor life — camping, boating, fishing and snorkelling,” Hess says. Head to Kakadu, Australia’s largest national park covering more than 20,000 square kilometres, and explore rugged landscapes, Aboriginal rock art sites and abundant wildlife. The multicultural city of Darwin offers markets, museums, nightlife and natural attractions.

Take in a spectacular sunset as you wander through Mindil Beach markets or immerse yourself in the local culture at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

Ready to propel your career in the Territory?

Healthcare in the Territory promises a culturally rich experience, exciting career opportunities and a lifestyle that we think is the best in the world!

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