Leanne Seiffert had never had anything to do with illness, let alone hospitals, before choosing nursing as a career.
As luck would have it, within her first six months of training at Lismore Base Hospital, Leanne found herself on the other side of the equation, getting her appendix out.
“I came from a family who were quite healthy, and I had never actually set foot in a hospital,” Leanne said.
Born and bred in Lismore, Leanne credits her involvement as a Girl Guide with forming a caring outlook that drew her to nursing, but it was her first experience as a patient that taught her the true value of great nursing care.
“I had a fantastic Enrolled Nurse who looked after me,” Leanne said.
“During that stay in hospital I really got to learn how important it is to listen to your patients, and what you can actually do as a nurse to make their stay a lot better.”
Starting out as a junior Registered Nurse in 1984, Leanne worked her way up over the years, and is now the Nurse Manager of Lismore Base Hospital’s Peri-Operative Department, overseeing five surgical units including the Operating Theatres and Day Surgery.
During her 36-year career, Leanne has become a multi-skilled nurse and educator, working across anaesthetics, recovery and as ‘scrub scout’, retrieving surgical instruments for the surgeon during a procedure.
As a young nurse, the excitement of being a part of big cases helped fuel Leanne’s passion for the job.
“We used to get a lot of complex trauma cases come through, and quite a few where you’d have two teams operating at the same time in the theatre. Our theatres back then were so tiny, but it was amazing what you could do in those spaces.”
“I was here in the 1980s when we had the two very old theatres. In 1992 we moved into the new theatres, and we thought it was amazing to have such a big space with four theatres!
“In no time at all we’d outgrown it, and now, to move over to the new facility, it’s just amazing.”
Technology and infrastructure has changed a lot over the years, bringing benefits for patients as well as staff.
In the new LBH theatre complex, Leanne’s team are now working with the latest technology in state-of-the-art surroundings.
“With the new theatre and the vascular work that we do, we’re no longer opening up patients for major surgery. We can use non-invasive techniques and it means we can operate on patients who before you might have said were unfit for surgery.
“Now they can have that procedure and get a better quality of life.”
Even though she chose to stay close to home, Leanne said the possibilities for anyone going into nursing are endless.
“It gives you so many opportunities, there are so many different areas you can go and work in. You can continue to broaden your skills, and it’s a profession that can take you anywhere in the world.”
Leanne’s story is one of many nursing and midwifery stories the Northern NSW Local Health District will be sharing throughout 2020 as we celebrate the World Health Organization’s International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.