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CQU nurse joins the jab in Cape York

Published:16 September 2021

Rose Bagenal and Shekina Plowman prepare Pfzier vials.

Rose Bagenal and Shekina Plowman prepare Pfizer vials.

As COVID-19 vaccinations continue to roll out across Australia, CQUniversity student and Registered Nurse Shekina Plowman is helping Queensland’s vulnerable rural communities receive their jab.

The CQUniversity Bachelor of Nursing graduate has been living in Far North Queensland for the past few months to assist with the Cape York COVID-19 Pfizer vaccinations.

“In June, Queensland Health started to call for expressions of interest from Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses and Immunisation Program Nurses to support the statewide COVID-19 Vaccine Program as part of a pandemic surge pool,” Ms Plowman said.

“I wanted to do my part to help to combat this pandemic and immediately signed up.

“During my day of mandatory training, I was told they needed nurses up in the Torres and Cape region and applied that same day to be deployed on a short-term contract.”

She said that her experiences on Thursday Island and Cape York during her nursing studies acted as extra motivation for the Noosa resident to make the move.

“In 2019 I spent two weeks on Thursday Island as part of my mental health work placement and had a day trip out to a remote Aboriginal community in Bamaga, part of the Cape York area.

“I loved the sense of community that the Cape has to offer. I met so many the locals and gained some long-lasting friendships.”

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms Plowman said the positive and welcoming attitudes have not changed with the community embracing the vaccine rollout.

“As a Registered Nurse, I circulate through different roles - administering vaccines, drawing up vaccines, educating the people that come in and helping in the post-vaccination recovery area.

“People feel very blessed about being able to have access to the Pfizer vaccine out in these rural communities.”

While Ms Plowman said she has many memorable experiences, a highlight has been working with a diverse range of colleagues.

“I get to work alongside a huge range of nurses from all around Australia and even the world. It has been great to see how other nurses work and handle different situations.

“It has been an indispensable learning experience. They have taught me so many vital skills, which I know I'll use throughout my nursing career.”

She said that her passion for nursing, and in particular mental health nursing, has only grown stronger over the past few months.

“Prior to undertaking my nursing degree, I had always desired to work as a community mental health nurse in a rural or remote locality. In between my busy work schedule, I am also completing my Graduate Certificate in Mental Health Nursing online with CQUniversity,” she explained.

“Although I am only in the Cape for a short three-month stay, I hope to come back once I complete my post-graduate qualifications and use my new skill set to help with the mental health epidemic.”