A line of defence

Cristy Rowe is a UTS Bachelor of Nursing alumna. Cristy worked full time in the Australian Army for four years. She is currently a Reserve Nursing Officer and is in her third year of studying medicine.


Was working in the Army Reserves something you have always wanted to do? How did it come about?
I worked in the Army Reserves in transport before I studied nursing. After I had started my nursing degree, I decided to transfer into a Nursing Officer role.

I sort of fell into it when I had to get glasses and therefore couldn’t get into the Airforce. I really enjoyed transport and decided to apply for a Nursing Officer position while I was still studying.


What steps did you take from studying at UTS to working full time in the Army?

I worked at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital for two years, completing my new graduate nursing program there.

I worked in the Intensive Care Unit and also completed my Graduate Certificate in Critical Care (see more about the UTS Grad Cert in Critical Care).

In order to transfer

from Transport Corp to Nursing Corp in the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC), I completed my Officer Selection board.


Cristy (pictured at the bottom, third from the left), with her colleagues


How did your nursing studies prepare you for this line of work?
Working as a nurse in the Army requires you to fulfil many different roles, both clinically and as an Officer.

Clinically, I was challenged, as there is much more focus on Primary Health Care and resuscitative care in remote areas with limited equipment (see more about postgraduate study in Primary Health Care at UTS).

I found this diverse role quite interesting.

As well as the clinical role, Officers are required to undertake general administration and managerial tasks, which I had not had to do before. Most of this was taught on courses you completed within the Army.


Where did you travel to on deployment?
I went to Wewak in Papau New Guinea and Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan.


What was the hardest thing about this job?
Being away from home for large amounts of time.

I could attend courses that went anywhere from 3-6 weeks, go ‘out field’ for 1-3 months at a time and go away overseas on deployment.

But it gave you the chance to learn many new skills, both in healthcare and general military life. You also make lots of different friends.


What was a typical day like?
A typical day varied depending on where you were. But most often it involved physical training, running sick parade in the morning and then medical appointments in the afternoon.

At other times, we would be out field. travelling a lot or setting up resuscitation bays or on training courses.

Some of the other tasks you might be doing included setting up field hospitals, weapons training or running courses for other soldiers.

The Army was a great way to gain new experiences, to travel and to meet and work with people from all over the world.


What are your plans and hopes for the future?
Working in the Army made me interested in the variety of General Practice medicine.

I am hoping one day I will be able to specialise as a Rural Generalist.


What advice would you give a nursing student looking to do something similar?

Be prepared to be flexible in your plans and travel away from home a lot.

Don’t expect to complete your normal role within the Army; expect to be challenged, and embrace it.


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