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Meet Canberra's nurse of the year

By Lucy Bladen
Canberra Health Services registered nurse practitioner Rebekah Ogilvie was named the ACT's nurse of the year for 2022. Picture: Karleen Minney

When COVID-19 started to spread in social housing properties in Canberra last year, a comprehensive health response was needed to curb the spread and look after vulnerable residents.

Enter Rebekah Ogilvie, a registered nurse practitioner who oversaw the response to the social housing outbreaks.

Dr Ogilvie advocated for the establishment of a specialised team to address the needs of the communities. The team helped to support people to safely quarantine at home while bringing other services to help with the needs of the residents.

She said while it was challenging it was one of the most amazing experiences from her 27-year career.

"I'm endlessly proud of the work that our team did," Dr Ogilvie said.

Dr Ogilvie has been recognised for this effort as she was named Canberra's nurse of the year for 2022.

She has worked in Canberra since 2008, prior to that she was at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. She has also done rural and remote nursing.

Since being in Canberra, she has set up a trauma service and has also completed a PhD.

She briefly pivoted out into university research before returning to her "clinical roots".

Dr Ogilvie said the COVID-19 pandemic had dramatically changed the nature of nursing but there was a resilient workforce who had adapted to a new way of doing things.

Dr Ogilvie said the COVID response had been challenging but one of the most amazing experiences of her career. Picture: Karleen Minney

"I think the more information that's come through has allowed us to be a little bit more strategic," she said.

"The reality is that when you're dealing with a pandemic there's a reliance on the largest workforce and that is us and I think that we've come through that with gritted teeth and big hearts.

"Now we're aware as a profession we need to do things differently."

The ACT's annual Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards were held on Thursday evening.

Melanee McMahon was named the ACT's midwife of the year. The senior, experienced midwife works at Calvary Bruce Private Hospital and was recognised for going above and beyond to help others.

Canberra Health Services intensive care unit's education team and the workforce capability nursing and midwifery education team were jointly awarded team of the year.

The award was handed out by Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith who said the awards recognised the accomplishment of nurses and midwives across all areas of the ACT's health system.

"It is often when we are most vulnerable that we need the help of a health professional, and the value of having someone kind and skilled to care for you at the time cannot be overstated," she said.

"Never before has this been more obvious than through the COVID-19 pandemic. Our nurses and midwives have gone above and beyond to support Canberrans and ensure the help they need is there when they need it.

"Canberrans are all extremely proud of the nurses and midwives in the ACT, and I thank them for their dedication."

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Dive Deeper:
AIS mass vaccination clinic to shut after 286,000 jabs
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the facility had greatly contributed to Canberra becoming one of the world's most vaccinated cities.
Concerns raised over senior nurses leaving Canberra hospitals
Canberra's hospitals are struggling to fill a shortfall of nursing staff.
Nursing is one of the top three most important professions – poll
Almost a third of people said they would consider becoming one, while a quarter would think about becoming a midwife.
ABC Canberra Parliament House bureau chief Louise Yaxley on 28 years covering federal politics and 10 election campaigns
Canberra Parliament House bureau chief Louise Yaxley explains how ABC News covers election campaigns, the daily editorial discussions and the…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
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Get all your news in one place