The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) speaks to Ben Chiarella MACN — a member of our Men in Nursing Working Party based in Orange, New South Wales (NSW) — in the lead up to International Nurses Day 2020.
Ben’s journey into the nursing profession started in his 30s after switching from a career in the corporate world.
“I was following the dollars over a sense of purpose in my work,” he says.
“I reached a point where I wanted to have a career that had more intrinsic value. I looked around at a lot of industries that might appeal, and I kept coming back to health. What I was so interested in was the breadth and scope a career in nursing can offer. There is a human element to what we do in nursing and that was what interested me so much; it wasn’t just about a bottom line or bonus.”
This career change saw Ben move to do his new graduate year at Orange Base Hospital and ending in emergency his progression then led him to work in the community and aged care health sector.
“I currently have a dual-factor role,” he says.
“I am the NSW manager for aged and community services at LiveBetter, an organisation dedicated to providing community care to regional and remote areas of Australia. I also run a remote telehealth home monitoring service and a nurse telephone service for Regional Australians. This is a proactive model of nurse-run engagement through phone-based services.”
Ben is particularly proud to be able to contribute to improving the health of Regional Australians in his role.
“Regional Australians have worse health outcomes and have to manage travelling large distances to health and care services,” he says.
“They are a high-risk and underserviced demographic. There is such a need for nursing and community care across Regional Australia and as a nurse, you can have such a positive impact on this cohort by delivering good quality care services.”
When asked for his perspective on the COVID-19 pandemic, Ben highlighted it has created a unique opportunity to transform the delivery of health care in Australia towards nurse-led models.
“There is a real opportunity to leverage the work we have done as nurses during COVID-19 and use it to drive fundamental change in the health care sector,” he says.
“Lots of work previously was done at the crisis point in hospital settings. What COVID-19 has done is expand the focus to keeping patients away from the hospital. This creates an opportunity for nurses to be at the centre of care in the community and aged care settings.”
Ben also stressed the importance of sharing the good stories throughout the pandemic, particularly those of nurses and health and community workers who have gone above-and-beyond in these difficult circumstances.
“Many stories in the media are negative, such as the early COVID Panic around hording and I don’t think we have published enough stories of people doing remarkable acts of kindness,” he says.
“Despite all these risks and challenges, health workers have still laced up their shoes and gone to work and that’s incredible. Across the world, people are dying and the last one holding their hand is a nurse. These acts of kindness occur every day and I am so proud of our profession and count myself lucky to call myself a nurse,” he says.