13 May 2022

A travelling nurse returns to her Cootamundra roots

| Anna Maskus
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(Left to right) Riche Ragutana, Kalyani Horatal Pedi Durayalage, Tailah Rigg and Elissa Drew training at Cootamundra Hospital. Picture: Murrumbidgee Local Health District.

(Left to right) Riche Ragutana, Kalyani Horatal Pedi Durayalage, Tailah Rigg and Elissa Drew training at Cootamundra Hospital. Picture: MLHD.

On the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth, nurses all over the world are celebrated for the contribution they make to global society.

International Nurses Day has been especially noteworthy over the past few years as COVID swept the planet, putting nurses under immense pressure.

Closer to home, the pandemic helped one nurse realise the importance of where you live. While travelling through regional Victoria in early 2020, Tailah Rigg’s life was stopped in its tracks.

“When the pandemic hit, life became hectic and full of new rules,” she said.

Hailing from Cootamundra, most of Tailah’s career had been spent a far cry from the small rural town. She worked in various metropolitan hospitals with high volumes of trauma patients, before leaving the city lights to begin travel nursing around Victoria.

“I was used to being a bit of a free spirt, working as a nurse in large city-based hospitals, holidaying abroad,” Tailah said.

But once COVID reached Australia, Tailah found herself stuck.

“When you suddenly are not able to come home for eight months, despite trying, you tend to re-evaluate your life choices,” she said.

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That re-evaluation led her to apply for the position of Clinical Nurse Educator (CNE) at Cootamundra Hospital. She excitedly returned home not only to be with her loved ones, but out of a sense of responsibility to pass on the skills and knowledge she gained in the major hospitals.

“I applied for the job with a really good understanding of what we need most,” Tailah said.

“I worked as an agency nurse in the interim and that gave me a really good understanding of some of the unique challenges nurses face in smaller facilities like Coota.”

Tailah’s role as Clinical Nurse Educator involves providing tailored education and support to nurses, and encouraging teams of nurses to link up and learn from each other.

She said in regional areas resources are not as plentiful and formal educational opportunities are often overlooked due to how busy rural nurses can be.

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“I like to start from scratch and really talk to the nurses about what they feel they need most when it comes to support, upskilling and education.”

Since returning to work in her hometown, Tailah has quickly rediscovered her love for the community despite commuting from Wagga each week.

“The locals are just so happy and friendly. Cootamundra really is the epitome of a quintessential country town,” she said.

“I am looking forward to spending more time in this beautiful community and assisting our wonderful team of health professionals at Cootamundra Hospital to access everything they need to really shine and feel fulfilled and more confident.”

Tailah credits her mother for inspiring her enthusiasm for nursing and her new role.

“My mum made me think I was amazing, that I was capable of doing anything I dreamed of,” she said. “Her ongoing support and encouragement helped me to believe in myself and be confident about my abilities.

“I suppose that has now spilled over to my passion and drive to support nurses in their confidence and capacity to shine.

“I want to empower nurses to reach for the stars, just like my mum empowered me to.”

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