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Episode 51 – Bernadette | Consistency of communication helped Australian nurses during the pandemic


In this episode, you will learn how the consistency of communication helped Bernadette to effectively oversee 18,000 nurses in 73 hospitals across Australia during the pandemic. You will also learn 10 FACTS about Bernadette and what she thinks about perfect body image, positive changes and challenges of 45+ women, what is it for her to feel good and look beautiful, and what advice she would give younger women and 30-year-old self!

You can READ the interview transcript HERE


10 Facts About Bernadette

(at the time of the project)

1. 53 years old.

2. Bernadette married her childhood sweetheart when she was 20. So she’s been married for 34 years.

3. And she has three beautiful children who are all grown up to be very successful, but really kind and fabulous people.

4. Bernadette’s youngest daughter lives in the US at the moment, and one of her sons studied in New York, and she has a sister overseas. So she travelled a bit.

5. When Bernadette and her husband were young, they were saving up money to put carpet in their house. One day they had to choose to either go to Paris for two weeks or carpet the house. They went to Paris. And she will remember it forever.

6. Bernadette has worked her entire life as a nurse. She is currently the Chief Nurse and clinical services director for Ramsey healthcare Australia. So, she oversees 18,000 nurses and 73 hospitals.

7. Bernadette really values professional development and education. And while she worked full time, she also did her doctorate and became a Doctor of Nursing PhD. She finished it in the early 2000s and vowed she would never study again. But Bernadette has actually just finished a Master of Health and medical law.

8. At the start of the pandemic Bernadette has taken up running for the first time in her life. She did it for her mental health and well-being just to feel she was doing something out of lockdown away from the computer and the phone.

9. Biggest challenge at this age – “My eyesight. And I find the recovery time if you become unwell takes a lot longer”

10. Positive change with age – “I think you care a whole lot less about what people think of you.”

Watch Bernadette’s VIDEO interview HERE




Hi, you're listening to My Body My Story podcast.

It's funny, I look back on a time when we were saving up money to put carpet in our house and we were like we have this choice we could have gone to Paris for two weeks, or carpet the house and you know we I thought at the time, foolishly we went to Paris for two weeks. But you know, I will remember forever, that trip.

This is the 45 or 45 chapter where we celebrate rule breakers and role models, the women who inspire us to live life our way and to show that sensuality, beauty, soul and true essence. Here we talk about what it's like to be 45 Plus, adjusting to the changes that come with time, and will listen to the stories of our participants. If you have an interesting story to share, we would love you to participate, you can email us on or visit our website, www.

Hi, everyone, and welcome to my body My Story project today with us Bernadette in the studio. And while she's sitting in the makeup chair and Nicole is doing makeup for her. I'll be asking her a few questions. Hi, Bernadette. Welcome to the studio. Welcome to the project.

Hello. Thank you for having me.

And tell us a bit about yourself.

I am 53 years old. It's actually my birthday tomorrow. How are we 54 I married my childhood sweetheart. So we've been married for 34 years. And we have three beautiful children who are all grown up. So definitely an empty nester. And I have worked my entire life as a nurse and I have something I love very much. And I'm currently the Chief Nurse and clinical services director for Ramsey healthcare Australia. So I oversee 18,000 nurses and 73 hospitals. And it's been a very, very busy two years with COVID. But it's a job I love and work that I'm very proud of.

Wow, this is challenging work.

Yes. And the challenging time.

So what are you most passionate about?

I mean, as a mom, of course, you're most passionate about your family and your children. I'm very proud of them. But I'm incredibly passionate about health care, and the high quality care that we provide in Australia. How do we enhance the role of nurses in order to you know, extend their scope of practice to be able to provide care for patients across regional and remote Australia. We've seen people isolated during COVID. And what we're seeing at the moment is a significant nursing workforce shortage. People are exhausted after COVID. They've worked long hours, and we've had high rates of health care worker infection. So I'm very passionate to see Australia continue to be one of the best health systems in the world. But what we what can we do to support that and to really bolster up our sort of somewhat flagging nursing workforce at the moment.

So what do you think was the most challenging moment during the COVID? For nurses, for the medical staff?

I definitely think that fear of the unknown. We started early, no one had dealt with a pandemic like this before. And we did see high rates of infection, particularly in Victoria over the first wave in 2020. And you know, I think I was so proud of everyone. We have a footage of an accident that occurred at one of our hospitals years ago, and an older lady was driving up to the front of the hospital. She presumably had some sort of collapse, and her foot hit the accelerator and she slammed into the front of the hospital. And on the CCTV footage, you can see, understandably, people running away and scattering out of harm's way. And in the CCTV footage, you can see three people running directly towards the car. And they're the nurses from the emergency department so they know something's wrong and somebody could need a hand so while everyone scatters they ran straight towards. And I think that's what's been happening in the pandemic with everyone's been running, you know, towards making sure patients are safe looking after each other. But there has been an incredible fear of the unknown. And I think just the relentlessness of You felt the first wave and now the pandemic is over. And then the next wave and the pandemic is over. And, of course, at the moment we're seeing continuing high rates of infection.

What do you think was the biggest lesson you learn?

I think that the, the consistency of communication, I think that if you even if you don't know as a leader, and you know, as I said, I oversee 73 hospitals, so even if I didn't have the answer, at least communicating that to people to say, we're working on it, we'll have the answer will come back to you. Because when they're not getting enough information, people become very fearful and start looking at a whole range of other information that might not be accurate. So for me the absolute importance of providing, you know, timely communication to people keeping people in the loop, making sure that they're understanding what the processes are. Because if you didn't talk to people every day, it was creating a lot of uncertainty. So I think that power of communication and leadership was such a strong lesson.

Definitely, definitely. Great. So everyone knows that with age we change. But what positive changes have you noticed so far with age?

I think you care a whole lot less about what people think of you. You can spend well, particularly your teen years, but 20 years, you know, am I okay? Am I enough? Am I doing this? Right? Is this gonna work? And you're sort of get into your, you know, your 40s and 50s. And think, well, it doesn't matter. I am enough. That's okay. And if somebody doesn't like that, well, it doesn't matter. So I think you tend to hone much more on the the opinions of the people that really matter to you, and not everybody else. So you can, it's much easier to block out those negative voices. If they're there. They don't matter. So I think that confidence really comes with age and you just don't sweat the small stuff.

Yeah. And what is the biggest challenge so far?

Oh, my eyesight? I can’t see a thing without my glasses. So I think, you know, you can still feel that you're the same age as you were 21. But you know, I think physically definitely deteriorating eyesight. And I find the recovery time if you if you become unwell, or I run and you if you have an injury, a slight tweak, you still feel it three weeks later. So I think that recovery time takes a lot longer. The older you get.

What would it be your greatest accomplishment? So far?

Um, well, again, as a mom, my kids, I'm, you know, incredibly proud of they've grown up to be very successful, but actually just really kind and fabulous people, which I'm very proud of. I think too. I really value professional development and education. And while I worked full time, I also did my doctorate, so became a doctor of nursing PhD, which is very challenging. And, yeah, so I finished about 10 or so probably a bit more than that. years ago in the early 2000s. And then I did vowed I would never study again. But I've actually just finished a Master's of health and medical law. I was really always wanted to study law as well. So I've just finished a law Master's. So you know, I'm proud of that, and that focus on development. But without a doubt, the last two and a half years of leading our hospitals through the pandemic is been definitely the most challenging, but certainly the most rewarding experience I've ever had at work and something I'm really proud of.

And it's very inspiring, like, never stop learning whatever age you are, you can do it.