Nurse Educator Karen Coubray is proud to be from a multi-generational Middlemore family. Some might say nursing runs in their blood as the legacy continues.
"My connection to Middlemore started before I was even working here. My Great Aunt worked here in 1961 on ward-8 as a Charge Nurse, which was an orthopaedic ward back then, and my mother was a student nurse in 1958. She worked in the operating theatre until 1963, and I was born here in this very same hospital."
Choosing to follow in her mother's footsteps, Karen began her nurse training here in 1988.
"When I qualified as a Registered Nurse, jobs were scarce, so I moved overseas, and it wasn't until 1995 I returned to Middlemore as a Registered Nurse in Plastics and Burns, where I stayed on until 1999."
Karen loved wounds as a kid and always found it fascinating to see how the body can heal. She noted her love of being part of the Burns and Plastics Unit, calling it the place where you can restore form and function.
"Having a burn injury can be devastating. It can be overwhelming when you first see a burn injury and witness its stress on the person and their family. I still feel the same, even after all these years.
"You never lose the compassion and empathy you feel towards patients and their families. It's happy and sad - you go through a whole gambit of emotions. Still, you can make a powerful difference in that patient's journey to recovery."
After working in other hospitals and gaining a lot of experience, Karen had a strong desire to give back to the place that started her career. So, in 2011, she returned home to Middlemore as Nurse Educator supporting Plastics and Burns.
She now has an additional role as Team Lead for the Nurse Educators supporting Surgical Services/Critical Care Complex within the People and Professional Development Team.
"When I was doing my training, my Nurse Educator at the time, Annie Tyson, inspired me. She was approachable and knowledgeable and was there to guide and encourage me. I remember saying, 'one day, I want to have your job.
"I love what I do here – you will hear this statement a lot, but the people make you get out of bed and come here – the support and culture make the job."
Her niece Olivia Mills also completed her training here and is now a nurse in the Emergency Department.
"I've been lucky to be raised by strong, intelligent and caring women. They helped inspire me to become a nurse. My Aunty Karen is passionate about her work and cares deeply for her patients and staff," says Olivia.
"Our whole family are so proud of what we do. When I run study days, I like to share my story and encourage staff that nursing is an amazing profession to be part of," says Karen.
Image: Karen's mum Patricia Yates