"I have always had a heart to see people free from disease. Although nursing developed a real affinity in me for working with patients and helping them overcome challenges, my eyes were opened to the increasing need for preventative health measures in global society."
For nurse and Master of Public Health student Katelyn Wall, Australia’s response to COVID-19 was a perfect illustration of just what can be achieved when people come together for a societal good.
With the COVID-19 vaccine rollout well underway, emergency department nurse Katelyn Wall marvels at how things have turned around from the peak of Victoria’s second wave in August 2020.
Ms Wall’s workplace – Monash Medical Central – treated the first hospitalised case of the virus in late February and in April built a new unit to treat the growing number of COVID-19 patients. By late July and August, the hospital was seeing dozens of people presenting with serious symptoms as cases across Victoria soared to 700 a day.
"As the numbers in the community were rising, there was real concern for my colleagues and I. At that point experts were really unsure if a vaccine was going to be made available," Ms Wall said.
“But a few months later, there was promising talk of a vaccine and community transmitted cases were declining. I watched as members of the Australian community, frontline workers, scientists and government came together, and I loved being a part of that."
After completing a Bachelor of Nursing in 2015, Ms Wall was drawn to the urgency of working in a busy emergency department.
“Emergencies are overwhelming, frightening and unpredictable, so being able to draw upon my experience with a calm persona and look someone in the eye to tell them that they are safe here is a profound experience.
“I take pride in being a part of a team every day that has the opportunity to impact someone’s life.”
As Ms Wall and her colleagues attended to the thousands of sick and injured patients that came through the emergency department in her first years of nursing, the word impact began to take on real significance to her.
“I have always had a heart to see people free from disease. Although nursing developed a real affinity in me for working with patients and helping them overcome challenges, my eyes were opened to the increasing need for preventative health measures in global society.”
Her experiences volunteering in west Africa and parts of the Pacific provided further insights into global health challenges.
“While volunteering overseas, I saw the increasing need for strong public health reform to address the frameworks in place that actually contribute to problems that cause poor health outcomes in communities,” Ms Wall said.