Australian High Commission
Solomon Islands

Anna Heaton – Nurse Educator at Kilu’ufi Hospital.

6 December 2016

                                                                  Anna Heaton – Nurse Educator at Kilu’ufi Hospital.

My name is Anna Heaton. I am a registered nurse and currently 4 months into a 12 month assignment as a Nurse Educator at the Kilu’ufi Hospital in Malaita Province.

Kilu’ufi Hospital is the main referral hospital for the Malaita Province, and serves over 14,000 people.

My role at the hospital includes helping to develop nurse competency assessments, provide clinical training, assist nursing staff to undertake research projects, audits and to expand Evidence Based Practice throughout the province.

Every day is different, some more challenging than others but we roll with the punches.  Some days we run workshops in the clinical areas or out in the communities. Other days I’ll stay in the office to assist the nurses with research, audits or writing standards of care.

I am even lucky enough to visit the remote clinics around Malaita. These clinics are run by nurse aids, no doctor, no ambulance, no help, no phone, no internet, no books and no guidelines. They do what they can and I’m constantly amazed at what they can do.  

Travelling to Honiara to attend the South Pacific Nursing Forum was a particular highlight, especially taking part in a Malaitan kastom dance with my colleagues.

Making friends and building trust in Solomon Islands is a mammoth task and takes a lot of effort, but is definitely worth it. Building successful relationships is the highest mark of achievement for a volunteer. It is why we are here.

The greatest thing about volunteering is that it teaches you so much about what you are capable of. I am able to push myself as hard and as far as I want. I have achieved things I never thought I would have so early on in my career as a nurse.

I had never developed and delivered a workshop before, I had never written a care manual or thought I would be capable of teaching research methods. It’s not just as a nurse that I am developing, I am also learning about myself as a person and how I deal with situations in a life that is so far removed from anything I have ever known. It is not always easy and there are days, weeks even when I would happily swap everything for a hot shower and a comfy bed.

During this time though, the coconut wireless rings far and loud and the volunteer network springs into action. I will never cease to be amazed at the friendships, care and support I have received whilst I’ve been here.

I left England to travel in 2010. I had to give something a go. I was hurtling towards 30; nursing in the National Health System had left me drained, unmotivated and slightly broken. The only thing I owned was an iron. Most of all I had an enthusiasm for any life that was more exciting than the one I was living.

Over the last 6 years I have travelled all over Australia, nursing in rural and remote areas. I have loved it.  I have volunteered in Ghana, West Africa and Tamil Nadu, India. I have met people who have travelled, worked, seen, and done so many amazing things that I am constantly inspired.

This is how I have found myself here, in Solomon Islands, continuing my great adventure.  I’m not quite sure if I chose the Solomon Islands or if they chose me. To be honest, it was the role that attracted me. The fact that it is a beautiful place to live is just an added bonus.  Every day is like the first day of the rest of my life.