Media Centre
Our people

Kylee Ferguson, 42, Clinical Nurse Educator, Concord Hospital

I've worked at Concord Hospital for 21 years, since I first came here as a new grad.

Now I'm a clinical nurse educator in anaesthetics and recovery, so I get to teach new grads.

Teaching new grads has been the most rewarding part of my career. I love the fact that that my teaching will help patients for years to come and, hopefully, the experience they have in hospital.

I always tell my new grads that communication is the key. If they can keep smiling and always be friendly and open, the patients will feel more comfortable and at ease and it can help their recovery.

It’s easy to relate to patients and connect with them because we’ll all be patients at some time, or we’ll have a mum, dad, brother or sister in hospital.

I always tell them to imagine how they would feel in the patient’s position. I think that’s really important.

My three sons are 12, 11 and seven years old now. They love sport, just like their mum. I used to play netball, I love tennis and I’ve just started AFL 9s.

My kids are also crazy about rollercoasters. We have a holiday to California coming up and my son tells me one of the theme parks has the fastest or steepest rollercoaster in the world - so we’ll be riding that one together.
Our people

Andrew Dang 20, volunteer

I’ve been volunteering at RPA and Sydney Dental Hospital for about 18 months. I’m in my final year of a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts course at the University of Sydney, but I come in two to three full days a week during holidays and once a week during semesters to gain experience in the health industry.

I want to be a nurse and getting to know patients one on one is a great place to start.

I usually work on the concierge desk and in the adolescent transition service, where I spend time with younger patients, helping break the monotony of their days in hospital. I talk to them, get to know their story, take them magazines and DVDs. It gives them someone to relate to and it’s fulfilling knowing I’m making a difference.

I speak fluent Cantonese, Mandarin and basic Vietnamese so I also like guiding people through the hospital or helping them make appointments. My parents came here from Vietnam and I think they're proud that I’m contributing back to the society that gave them so much.

I’m going to do a Master of Nursing next year and, of course, I want to work at RPA. Where else? I love the atmosphere of this hospital. There is a great communal spirit here. It’s like one big, welcoming family.

If I’ve learnt anything from volunteering, it's to never judge a book by its cover. Every person who comes in the door has a different story. Treat them all as you would a friend – and always have a smile on your face.

Our people

Louisa Melas, donor

We're at RPA today to donate clothes and toys as part of our charity group, the Daughters of Penelope. It's the women's arm of the Australasian Hellenic Education Progressive Association, the biggest Greek association in the world. It started out in America opposing the Ku Klux Klan, which didn't approve of any ethnic groups.

The association then spread to Australia in 1928 as a way for isolated immigrants to meet each other. Now, we are a pretty strong army and our mission is to give back to the communities that gave us a foot in life.

My mum came to Australia from Cyprus in 1950 and she knew no one except her husband.

A neighbour told her about this group and it's been a part of our family ever since. Among our ranks we have doctors, we have cleaners, but we don't differentiate. It doesn't matter what you do or who you are: you're a person and you're here to help.

I'm now the district president for NSW and New Zealand and our current project is to assist women in need. Late last year I was talking about this at a dinner with (RPA midwife) O'Bray Smith, pictured, and her ears pricked up. She said there were women in need here and we said let's do this. Today, we have donated 18 big bags of clothes. And we'll keep giving.

The day after I put the call out, three big bags and a suitcase of clothes appeared on my front porch. People are so inspiring. I was overwhelmed and I thought, this is worth it.

If I was to give any advice to others, I'd say be thankful for what you've got and keep giving back – even if it just a smile, because a smile can change someone's day.

Our people

Brenda Bradbery, 63, senior education consultant, Centre for Education and Workforce Development, Rozelle

I have worked in clinical and corporate health education since starting as a midwife at Camden Hospital in 1973. 
A year ago, I was planning on retiring but I'm not very good at retirement. Six months in, I received a call from Sydney Local Health District asking me if I was interested in a role as an education consultant, so here I am.

And I'm loving it.

I love the collegiality; the intellectual stimulation, and I love being around people who work in health.

I'm passionate about education. It's the key to organisational change; to improved performance; and to developing individuals - our most valuable asset. 
You transform lives with education, particularly those who are disadvantaged. I've seen nursing assistants end up as university lecturers with PhDs. I'm always pretty chuffed to see that; to know I've played a small role.

Outside of work, I'm part of Zonta International which aims to improve the status of women by empowering them. 
Through my local branch, we've partnered with the Lisa Harnum Foundation, the Hills Domestic Violence Prevention Committee and the police to establish refuges for women fleeing domestic violence. The only refuge in our area closed last year, but we're about to open two new houses which were funded by local shop owners. I get a real buzz out of that.

Globally, our group is also fundraising to help women in Liberia suffering obstetric fistula. We're setting up a similar model to the one in Ethiopia run by Dr Catherine Hamlin. We'll help provide education, legal advice and funding for surgery. But we know that some women, despite having surgery, will still be shunned by their own families so we will help provide them with life skills so they can make a living on their own.

My advice to others is that a career is a journey not a destination, and your career will change many times. Never give up. Never, ever give up

Our people

Vanessa Sleet, 42, midwife

I'm a new grad so this is my first year after a big career change – and my first Christmas away from my children. I was in marketing before this, so there was a significant drop in pay but it's not about the money, it's about job satisfaction. In the corporate world I was just working for the big boss and making money for other people. I decided to make the change after having both of my children here at RPA. I thought "wow, what an amazing profession" working with families and babies. This was my midlife crisis. I could be driving around in a sports car, but instead I'm here in polyester scrubs working on Christmas Day. My former colleagues were shocked, even my family was shocked, but I've always had a bit of a fascination with medicine and the human body. When I was a child I had an anatomy book that I would constantly flick through. I was always fascinated by it. I just think it's a real privilege working here. To be there at the beginning of a new life, it's amazing. It can be stressful, but it's an amazing privilege.

Our people

Vanessa Markham, 32, registered nurse, Concord Hospital, Neurosciences

I recently moved to Camden so it's a bit of a drive to work for me now. I should probably be looking for a job closer to home but I love my job and the people I work with. Everyone is really friendly and knows each other here. My mother's been a patient at Concord several times and in all the different wards. She's like a part of the furniture. She was a nurse too but did all her training in South Africa in the days of Apartheid so it was quite different for her. She saw a lot of things she didn't want to see.

I have two kids of my own now and one on the way. My son is six and my daughter is two. We love going to the beach and Wet'n'Wild and my husband is teaching my son how to wakeboard and water-ski behind our boat.

Our people

Sunee Leo, florist, Concord Hospital

Originally, I studied floristry as a hobby after an early retirement from my accounting job, but I liked it so much I bought the florist here at Concord Hospital 10 years ago. I live here in Concord but three times each week I leave at 4.30am to buy flowers from Flemington Market. I came to Australia from Bangkok 29 years ago because I wanted a simple life for me and my family. I have two children. My daughter is a nurse here at Concord, and my son is a medical engineer working for ResMed. I love working here - it's the best environment. The doctors, nurses, and staff are so kind and compassionate. Sometimes, people who come in are quite sad so I like to talk to them, especially if they have no one else to talk to. I can comfort them. They are only here for a short time while they visit patients, but we become friends.

Our people

Sharon Trindall, 22, registered nurse

I'm a critical care rotator, I've been in the burns unit for about four months now and this is my favourite so far. I really like working with the longer term patients with bigger burns. You see them in such a devastating state when they first come in and then it's so awesome to see them walk out with a smile on their face. You form really strong relationships with a lot of the patients that come through.

When I'm not working I love camping, kayaking and mountain biking with my fiancé. We were engaged two weeks ago. He proposed in a treehouse overlooking the ocean that he had been building secretly for over a year. He's a registered nurse in ICU on the Central Coast, which is great because we go through some of the same things at work and we can talk about it.

I chose Concord Hospital for the environment. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming when I was placed here as a student that I knew it would be a good supportive place to learn and it has been.

I've wanted to be a nurse since I was in year 9. I just like the idea of helping people and I want to start doing mission work with outreach programs overseas and in rural areas. I'm also starting my midwifery training later this year and we're getting married in June so it's going to be a big year.

I'm in the burns unit at the moment. I've been there for about 4 months now, I'm a critical care rotator. Before that I was at the ICU here for six months. Before that I was a new grad here, where I got to work in oncology and geriatrics. This is my fourth rotation in two years. It's been great experience they give you lots of learning opportunities so it's pretty cool. I don't know which has been my favourite. I love the critical care program. I just like that aspect of care. The burns unit it pretty cool. I would haven't o say burns is my favourite probably. They have awesome staff up there, a really good work environment and I just like, I'm really interested in wound care, dressings and stuff like that.

Our longer term patients, the ones with the bigger burns, I really like because you work with them for a long time and you see them in such a devastating state when they first come and then it's just so awesome to see them walk out with a smile on their face. You definitely make really strong relationships with a lot of the patients that come through.

I'm at Hornsby at the moment, it takes me about 30 minutes. I honestly chose Concord just for the environment, when I was placed as a student here I felt really accepted, I felt comfortable, anyone would say hello to you when you walk down the corridor and that's why I wanted to come here. I thought it would be a good supportive place to learn and it has been. It's an awesome hospital.

I like kayaking and mountain biking. I do that up at the Central Coast and there's some cool tracks around Hornsby. We go down the coast on camping trips to do that, with my fiancé, we just got engaged. We go down go camping, take the kayaks, it's about four hours down south to Jervis Bay.

Engaged 2 weeks ago. He built a treehouse for me overlooking the ocean and made me breakfast up there in a cave and then took me over to this treehouse that he'd been building for over a year on a property overlooking the ocean on the central coast.

I have three younger sisters too so now mum says 'alright girls everyone of you need to find a guy like that now", someone with building skills.

He's a registered nurse too. Up at Gosford Hospital in ICU. It's really good because we deal with a lot of the same things and we can talk about work. I have a younger brother too.

We're getting married in June on the Gold Coast because that's where I'm from originally. I get up there every one or two months. They're on a property on a beach.
Ive wanted to be a nurse since about year 9. I jst like the idea of helping people and I want to go startr doing mission work with it, outreach programs overseas and in rural areas. I'm doing my midwifering training mid year as well so it'll be a big year.

Our people

Sarah Maguire, Statewide Eating Disorders Coordinator, 41

I've been at RPA in various capacities for over 15 years now, thanks to what I call a happy accident of fate - I landed a job as research assistant to the late Professor Peter Beumont, one of Australia's leading eating disorder specialists.

Why did I choose eating disorders? I think every female has been exposed to the enormous pressures placed on weight and body shape, and we can all bring quite a breadth of understanding and empathy to the issue. 

Once I'd experienced eating disorders at a clinical level, I was very moved and horrified - but I got it. 

I got how hard it is for a young girl to grow up in a culture obsessed with weight and success. 

Of all the mental illnesses, eating disorders get the most publicity, by far. And much of it is trivialised and sensationalised which just adds to the stigma. 

Early in my career, I was given my first serious case where I treated a patient through to recovery. It was a girl who weighed less than 30kg and was profoundly unwell. 

One night, early on in treatment when she was still extremely ill, I had a dream where I saw her as an adult at her own wedding. Now, this girl had all the hallmarks of someone who would probably never recover - and many at her stage of illness don't. But after several years of hard work, she did. 

She got married a couple of years ago and sent me a photo from the day, asking: "does it look like it did in your dream?". 

That had a profound effect on me. It gave me hope that anything is possible.