Aleksandra Szycman is an Irish trained Midwife who graduated from UCD in 2017.
After attending an information roadshow in Dublin hosted by Hurstville Private Hospital she started a year-long journey to get to work as a Midwife in Sydney, Australia.
With the support of ICE Group, Aleksandra started in Hurstville Private Hospital at the start of March 2020, just before the COVID19 pandemic locked down Australia. ICE Group got to catch up and ask Aleksandra how the move has worked out.
What is the biggest difference you notice between midwifery in Ireland versus midwifery in Australia?
Midwifery in Ireland is definitely more midwifery-led and there is a bigger community setting compared to Australia where care is more obstetric led and doctors are the main care providers but still there is a good multidisciplinary team approach to patient care. Also, the majority of places seem to be operating on an 8-hour shift system compared to 12/13 hour days in Ireland.
What tips would you give to any midwife or nurse looking to go to Australia to work for a couple of years?
I think having a few years of experience under your belt is crucial because you will have confidence in your own skills and knowledge going into a new job, new environment, and regulations but also a new culture. In that way even though things may seem a lot different to back home essentially patient care is always the same. Also, you're more of a critical thinker and can really relate your experience between the two countries and make most of it. If you really want to go to Australia just do it, book the flight, apply for a visa because there is always going to be a job waiting for you back at home, even if you go for 3 months.
Tell us about working with Hurstville Private Hospital?
Hurstville Private Hospital is a smaller hospital with a small maternity unit which means you're not anonymous and the staff knows each other well which helps with trust and relationships in work. From my experience management is also quite accommodating to their staff and no problem is too big or too small to be addressed with any of them.
Tell us more about Hurstville Private Maternity Services
Maternity services in Hurstville Private include care provided by obstetricians, midwives, and pediatricians. There are also additional services such as lactation consultants and physiotherapist specialising in maternity patients. Different areas on the unit look after antenatal and postnatal patients, laboring patients, gynecological patients, and babies needing intensive care. Maternity patients on the ward also get some extra perks for choosing Hurstville Private such as high tea, complimentary pedicures, and photoshoot for the baby and their family.
Describe a typical day for you in Hurstville Private Hospital
My day on the ward starts at 07.00 am with a clinical handover and distribution of patients. On labour ward we have labouring mums and also day assessment cases which gives a good variety to our day; you never have the same shift twice. We work closely with the obstetricians and together we make all the necessary assessments and plan the care of our patients individually. Our day is kept busy with constant changes of the nature of labour ward and usually, we meet approximately 3 new babies during our morning shift. The afternoon staff arrives at 14.30pm, giving us plenty of time for handover, checking of drugs, and being able to finish any documentation before the end of the morning shift at 15.30 pm.
What are the opportunities for development in Hurstville Private Hospital?
Given the pandemic, at the moment most professional development/education is withheld, but management seems quite keen on encouraging their staff to take part in educational sessions. I was scheduled for education days but they have been postponed. Also, such days are included in your working week.
What has been the highlight of your first 4 weeks in Sydney been?
Living in Sydney has a lot of perks, there's always something to do, loads of places to eat at, and a great social scene. Also surprisingly it is more affordable to live in than big cities in Ireland like Dublin. I think the weather and amazing beaches are one of the biggest highlights of living in Sydney it just can't compare to home. Also, I was lucky to be in Sydney during the Mardi Gras weekend which was a really fun experience.
What was the hardest part of the process?
I think the overall paperwork and forms was the most difficult process being time-consuming and sometimes quite complex. Money is a big factor as well but with my process being so spread out I did find quite affordable. Also, the obvious one leaving family and friends behind and moving by myself.
What was the easiest part of the whole process?
For me, the easiest part was actually finding accommodation in Sydney and getting set up here in the first two weeks with stuff like sim card, bank account, and public transport. I was quite fortunate with how everything fell into place and I was actually able to enjoy having time off in Sydney, but a lot of it comes to researching things back home before the move.
How long did the process take?
It took me exactly a year from the decision 'I want to move to Australia' until I was sitting on the plane to Sydney. It's good to be prepared for delays being it AHPRA, visa, saving money, getting paperwork together in Ireland, unexpected family/life events, or even bushfires.
Did you find using an agency helpful in your move to Australia?
Yes, I would be totally lost without an agency, I don't think I would even know where to start. With ICE Group everything is broken down for you in steps and it seems just so more manageable instead of looking at everything you need to do. Also, I found there is a lot of misleading or outdated information online in general and you have to be very careful.
Why did you decide not to go out on a Working Holiday Visa?
I didn't like the idea of constantly moving employers as I know from my own experience in Ireland it takes at least the 6 months to get settled somewhere and get used to how the place runs. Also, even the mention of regional work was a no for me and I knew I needed an alternative.