When 2021 began, two students never envisaged they would be a part of the frontline team at Bendigo Health, equipping medical staff with vital protection against coronavirus.
Stellina Baxter and Lucia Bowles are spending their summer break from university working in Bendigo Health’s Respiratory Protection Program (RPP).
It was an opportunity borne out of Bendigo Health’s use of open recruitment, giving people the chance to gain employment in healthcare based on ability and potential rather than previous experience.
Given the effect of the pandemic on employment, open recruitment is an initiative that helps talented and potential staff enter or return to the workforce in positions they may have felt they wouldn’t be considered for.
For Stellina and Lucia, the opportunity to work at Bendigo Health has provided them with new skills and as a sense of pride in helping during the pandemic.
The RPP aims to streamline the process of fit testing and to increase the awareness and importance of Respiratory Protective Equipment within healthcare settings.
Stellina and Lucia work as fit testers, checking that a specific model and size of a tight fitting face piece seals adequately to the wearer’s face
While they have had some experience working in hospitality, being a part of such a large health organisation has brought its own challenges and rewards on a different level.
Stellina said the job has given her greater confidence to interact with people such as doctors, allied health service providers. It has also encouraged them to overcome challenges along the way.
“People might struggle with claustrophobia or asthma, and so we need to guide them through the fit testing process,” she said.
“Our work involves a lot of communication and organisation, with so many different parts to the fit test process,” Lucia said.
“It’s been an eye opener,” Stellina said. “But everyone has been supportive and welcoming.”
Both students were grateful for the opportunity to gain experience in the health service and encourage others to do the same.