Nursing Placement in East Arnhem Land

Student Reflection


Bachelor of Nursing

Placement Location:

East Arnhem Land

Year of Placement:


I had the unique opportunity to undertake a WIL nursing placement in Nhulunbuy and the surrounding East Arnhem Land communities at the end of 2023, and it has contributed greatly to my practice as a now registered nurse.

My time in Nhulunbuy expanded my insight and world view as I worked in some of the most remote communities in Australia. Despite undertaking most of my placements in rural areas, East Arnhem Land was truly something unlike the rest. I was emerged from day one into local Yolngu culture, learning language, cultural practices, and kinship systems, taught by the Elders of the area. This aspect of my placement taught me to take on holistic views and not become distracted by the overwhelming medicalisation of the healthcare system; to see a patient for who they are, their connection to the land, and those around them, not just their illness.

It also taught me how to think on my toes, with resources low and the nearest hospital a 3-hour drive along unmaintained dirt highways that we tackled in a Toyota Troop Carrier. I quickly learnt how important teamwork was as I leant on doctors, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in moments where I was unsure. It made me realise that working in healthcare is a journey of learning and that I didn’t have to do it all alone, and it wasn’t about being the ‘smartest’ in the room. Working as a team is the best thing for the patient, and everyone has something they can contribute to create the best outcomes.

This placement has inspired me to work rural and remote and continue improving the access to quality healthcare in these beautiful, culture-rich communities. Without the financial and moral support of ACEN and my mentor, I would have struggled during my placement as living remote came with big expenses and could sometimes be hard without others to debrief with. A special thank you to Heather for supporting me.