Rae-ann El-Halbouni: “I knew I wanted to be a registered nurse and help people every single day for the rest of my life”

by | Sep 26, 2020 | Humans

Rae-ann El-Halbouni is a 2020 Western Sydney University nursing graduate. Rae-ann, 22, has faced many situations in the nursing industry, from confronting emergency cases and Covid-19  to treating patients to full recovery. Interviewed by Dania Roumieh, Rae-ann shares her experiences.




What is your position at work?

“My full-time position is a registered nurse at a hospital (in South-West Sydney) in the emergency department, and I have been doing it for 5 months.”


What inspired you to study to become a nurse?

“I like helping people, and I love the medical field!

Nursing is a very broad career. You can work for the community; you can work in hospitals, you can work from home, you can work in medical centres. In nursing, you can do anything.”


Figure 1: Rae-ann at her WSU Graduation 2020 (Supplied: Rae-ann El-Halbouni)

What made you determine ­­­to cross the finish line when you were studying?

“I knew what I wanted to be. I love the medical side of things. I knew I wanted to be a registered nurse and help people every single day for the rest of my life.

“There’s so much to do in nursing; like teaching as a nursing educator and emergency as well. Even in clinical nursing, you have your own floor. You’re doing all the medical stuff and you’re teaching students with hands-on work as well. You’re still saving lives and teaching people how to save lives too.”


What do you like most about nursing?

“When patients come in really, really sick and then they recover, you know you helped them achieve their journey to recovery. They thank you for helping them recover and their smile says it all.

“I love to help them and take them to rehabilitation and helping them recover through their health struggles. They’re very vulnerable and they don’t know what to do. It’s helping them get their life back when they thought they couldn’t get it back. I know that I’m being rewarded every single day when I’m going to work.”


What’s the most unexpected part of your job?

“Dealing with death is probably the most unexpected part. For example, in one incident, I was looking after a patient in Emergency. She was brought in by an ambulance. She was very sick.”

“They suspected that it wasn’t COVID-19 for a 92 year-old-female. She came in and then noticed her oxygen saturation deteriorating and going down to like 83 per cent. I then escalated it to the doctor, and I was like, ‘this patient oxygen saturation has to be above 95 and its 83 per cent.’ I panicked, and I’ve never done that before in an emergency, I usually keep my calm.”

“We put her on a bypass machine, and her oxygen saturation went up to around 90 per cent, but it wasn’t working. The patient’s oxygen saturation still didn’t go up. We then did the tests, it showed that she was going through multi-organ failure, and she only had then till the morning.

And this was a night shift and family’s waiting outside. I felt sick that I had to deliver the news to the family, ‘she’s not going to make it until the morning. We’ve worked our hardest on her too, we tried our hardest. So if you just wanna, you know, go in and say good-bye now’. ”

“It’s not my family and I can’t feel what they feel. But to a certain extent, that was really hard. That was so hard.”


Figure 2: Rae-ann holding prescription medication (Supplied: Rae-ann El-Halbouni)


As a young nurse, how do you aspire to grow in your career?

“I aspire to grow to become a trauma nurse. Next year, I’ll hopefully be doing midwifery.”


Name one thing WSU taught you that positively impacted on your work practices.

“Western Sydney taught me so much. Especially filling out the schedule drug books. It’s that hard because one mistake in the drug book, whether it’s frequency, balance or even a drug missing, it can ruin the patient’s treatments.

“For example, you have to be with two nurses; one is to take the correct drugs out of the drugs cupboard and the other is to write in the drug book how much you have taken out and put back to keep count.

“The doctor prescribes these medications. Once you take them to the patient, you need to confirm all the correct measurements and drugs and sign the medication drug book to show the patient has swallowed them. If it wasn’t for WSU, I would’ve been really confused with this process.”


Figure 2: Rae-ann in her nursing uniform (Supplied: Rae-Ann El-Halbouni)

How do you make sure you get adequate self-care?

“I make sure I go to the gym to get some exercise or I go for a long walk on my days off. I also spend time with my family in between shifts. If you don’t take self-care, you tend to be lost. You would just burn out, and that’s normal for nurses because they don’t take much self-care. It’s very important.”


What’s your approach in emergencies?

“Being organised! You only have a short period to prepare yourself before the ambulance comes with the patient.

For example, if a patient has a cardiac arrest, you have to be proactive. You always have to know what you’re doing and even for sepsis. So if a patient is going through sepsis, it can lead to multi-organ failure. So the patent could die in that time.

“If you don’t realise what the patient is going through, there’s a problem. For example, if the patient is hypotensive and had high heart rate, and you do not realise what’s wrong with the patient, the patient could die within an hour. It’s terrifying. That’s why it’s important to always to be aware of the smallest things and manage your time effectively.”


Is there anything you want to say to HSC students who wish to become a nurse?

“It’s a good job; it’s a very rewarding job to have if you have a passion for it. You have to love what you do. Obviously, there will be days where you don’t want to work, but when someone tells you how much they appreciate your effort, it makes you want to do more.

“I was walking through the shops the other day, and this random woman stopped me. She looked at me and said ‘Thank you so much. My husband is home now and recovered, so thank you. I said back to her ‘You’re welcome, but I don’t remember who you are’.

“She replied to me, ‘you helped my husband. You looked after him in emergency and now he’s doing so well. Thank you so much!’. She was so nice; I just kept saying, ‘It’s okay, your very welcome’. It was a really nice feeling to have.”


Is there anything you want to say to WSU nursing students?

“Yes – enjoy what you’re doing.  You have to learn to love the job and what you study. If you have a passion for it, you’ll be amazing in the real world. But don’t think it’s like what you see on TV. You might be working morning and night shifts a few days in a row. Sometimes I have four-night shifts in a row, which is exhausting. But as a graduate, you love your job so much, because you’re finally in the real world.”

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