Getting to know the NOW team: Sarah Rusten

 Bus Driver Kerrie Spano (left) with Bus Coordinator and Nurse Sarah Rusten 

Bus Driver Kerrie Spano (left) with Bus Coordinator and Nurse Sarah Rusten 

What is your role at NOW?

Day Tripper Coordinator and Enrolled Nurse

How long have you worked at NOW?

6 months, part time (4 days)

What does your role involve?

As the Day Tripper Coordinator and Enrolled Nurse I have two distinct roles. Firstly, I provide nursing assistance to bus attendees. This involves assisting everyone on and off the bus, monitoring the attendees’ health (including checking they are eating well) and ensuring there are no issues during the day.  I aid attendees with any medication or health concerns they may have throughout the day. I record clinical notes daily to ensure we have a historical record of each attendee’s health.

Secondly, I help plan the Day Tripper calendar and special events.

In the past the Day Trippers didn’t have a set calendar for activities or destinations.

This month we have implemented a fixed, month-by-month program to enable attendees to better plan for the day’s activities and adventures. For example, if attendees know they are going shopping, they can prepare a shopping list or ensure they have adequate money in advance. It also allows people to invite guests to suitable activities.

It is exciting for the attendees to now have a program where they know where they are going each day, and they can plan ahead for it.

What types of activities are included in the new Day Tripper program?

In the coming months our new program will include shopping trips to the Homepeds Factory Outlet at St Ives for comfortable shoes, undergarment shopping at Bettinas at Caringbah, as well as regular shopping trips to Rockdale Plaza and Southgate. Our shopping days will consist of morning tea, shopping and then lunch at a new venue.

The Day Trippers would love to explore venues outside of the Shire. We make sure we find clubs and venues that suit their price range, as we have to stick to a budget.

We will also be scheduling longer day trips, such as seeing the Bowral tulips or visiting the Nepean Belle Paddlewheeler. These monthly Day Tripper adventures will be held on every third Friday of the month.

What are some of the Day Trippers favourite outings?

It varies depending on what group is going out. But they all love anywhere with a view and visiting places they used to go to when they were younger.

Is there a good gender mix on the bus?

We have a couple of gentlemen come along on a Thursday. We are hoping to encourage more to come each day.

What is the maximum number of people who can come on the bus each day?

We cater for up to 11 people each day. [There are places available on all days – Monday to Thursday – for ladies and gentlemen.]

What encouraged you to apply for this role?

When I read the position description, I thought it was a good match to my skills and passions. It included program coordinator tasks and I love to plan and organise things, and I had just received my Enrolled Nurse registration.

I also work part time as an Enrolled Nurse for Southern Cross Community Health Care.

Have you had any health emergencies with the Bus Trippers?

We had one lady who suffers from Meniere's disease and her carer forgot to give her medication to her. We were on the bus and she suffered a terrible earache, which made her sick. My job was to assist and administer first aid until paramedics arrived.

What do you personally gain from working with the Day Trippers?

From the age of 16 I volunteered at a nursing home. I mainly visited residents that didn’t have any family, and spent my time taking them on walks, talking with them and listening to their tales.

I’ve always had the ability in me to sit and listen to people talk for hours. That is something that I appreciate doing in this job. You get to hear about all of the Day Trippers’ personal experiences, their life stories, which is incredible. Those are things that you will hold with you forever.

I have made friends with many of the Day Trippers. They are all very lovely. I don’t have favourites but there are some that I have a certain bond with, and they will open up more to me compared to others.

What inspired you to become a nurse?

I have always wanted to be a nurse. However, I took the longest route possible to become a qualified nurse.

I left school in Year 10, and I wasn’t able to go to university without my HSC. Instead, I went to TAFE for seven years: doing Access to Nursing for a year; Aged Care Nursing part time for three years; then Enrolled Nursing for a year, doing prac on and off and working in between.

Where else have you used your nursing and aged care nursing qualifications before NOW?

I have worked for Calvary in community nursing but most of my previous experience was in medical administration as a practice manager and medical assistant.

I worked for a facial plastic surgeon and we travelled from Brisbane to Dubbo to Mildura to Bondi Junction. I followed him everywhere and assisted him in surgery, which was quite interesting.

I also worked for Sydney’s top six neurosurgeons, setting up their clinic at Macquarie Neurosurgery, which was an incredible experience.

My experience is very broad but it is all in medicine.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I would love to be working for NOW as a community nurse. I have been doing that for the past three years in my other role and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.

What do you like to do when you are not nursing or working?

My mother and I just started a company called the Flower Hustle. We create an assortment of flower arrangements that can be delivered in the St George area and Sutherland Shire, for a great price. One thing that sets us apart is that the water in our vases is actually coloured black and over time it sends the flowers that colour. It is very different – I like doing different things.