Spending much of her childhood and teenage years in hospital inspired Alise Tilbury to take on a career in the medical world.
“I spent a significant amount of time in hospital and became fascinated by the medical world,” Alise said.
“There were a few exceptional nurses that cared for me and since then I have endeavoured to be a nurse that made the patient’s overall experience the best it could be; I know firsthand what a difference this can make.
“Having only attended just over two years of high school, I felt that I missed out on so much of life and one of the things that got me through that time were my elaborate plans for adventure and travel that I told myself I was going to do once I was ‘better’.
“After completing my nursing degree, I went travelling around the world.
“When I returned home, I decided to work rurally so I could continue to explore and see what my own country had to offer while saving
to travel again.
“I ended up falling in love with rural work, the lifestyle, the adventures and the people. I repeated this cycle of working, saving and
travelling for many years.”
In 2019, Alise was the inaugural recipient of the Savanna Addis Scholarship, a partnership between the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and Rural Health West to help nurses aspiring to work for RFDS to complete the necessary training. It is a requirement for RFDS flight nurses to have dual registration as a registered nurse and midwife.
The scholarship helped Alise gain her Master of Midwifery Practice in 2021 and she has now started her dream role as a retrieval nurse.
“Without the scholarship’s financial support, I do not think I would have been able to achieve my dream, which was to work for
the RFDS,” she said.
“Not only am I now working for the RFDS, but I absolutely love midwifery and I am extremely passionate about women’s health.
“The RFDS provides emergency and primary health care services 24 hours a day, every day of the year to people living, working
and travelling through rural and remote areas of Australia.
“It is undoubtedly a different experience than working in the hospital system, with rapid changes not just every day, but sometimes by the minute.
“The best way I can describe working for the RFDS is that you are practising in an exceptionally organised yet chaotic and calm workplace, fuelled by a steady drip of adrenaline, with periodic boluses of the unexpected and with one certainty, that there will be a change of plan.
“It really can be an exciting job with a lot of adrenaline, and then you have days where it is very calm and chilled.”
Alise said her work has helped her understand the geographical and socioeconomic challenges faced by people living and working rurally.
“Working rurally has given me depth not only professionally but as a person,” she said.
“I have learned a huge amount about other cultures and ways of life and can better understand the disparities that are occurring in
our own country.”
“I regularly witness the disparity and health inequality for our First Nations people and have become passionate about Aboriginal health.”
“I have had some of the most privileged experiences working in rural health and I feel like I can make a significant impact on people’s lives, particularly our First Nations people. Even when I returned to Perth, my passion for rural work and life has always pulled me back.
“I have met some lifelong friends, had some of the most privileged experiences, and continue to get out there and see this beautiful
country – thank you Rural Health West and RFDS.”
The Savanna Addis Scholarship, funded by Rural Health West at $10,000 a year and supported by the RFDS for an initial 10-year period, is available to nurses with critical care experience who do not have the necessary midwifery qualifications required to work for the RFDS.
The scholarship is named after former Telethon child, Savanna Addis, who lived with Alagille Syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the liver and heart.
Savanna became a dedicated fundraiser for RFDS after being transported by the service following a life-threatening fall while living in Kununurra.