Robert Jackson loves a good emergency.
The second year nursing student at Monash University's Peninsula campus spends his spare time volunteering with St John Ambulance where he practices his developing clinical skills and is learning to provide health care under pressure.
"It's a fantastic way to reinforce the skills taught as part of the Bachelor of Nursing," Rob explained. "One morning we were taught how to give intramuscular injections at university and that afternoon with St John I had the opportunity to administer my first one."
The volunteers are supervised by a Registered Nurse and provide first aid at large public events at major venues. Typically, St John sets up a small field hospital onsite to administer first aid as well as first response in any emergency.
Other procedures he has observed and assisted in while volunteering include intubation (inserting a tube in an unconscious patient's throat to help them breathe), stabilising patients with spinal injuries, recognising deterioration and treating asthma attacks and burns.
Rob became interested in a career in health care after completing a first aid course a few years ago. He said he thrives when working under pressure and hopes to pursue his nursing career in emergency departments and situations.
A recent stint volunteering in Cambodia also inspired Rob to consider opportunities for humanitarian work in the third world, where he believes nurses can make a huge impact on public health.
Rob joined a St John Ambulance three-week visit to teach basic health and hygiene to orphans and children with little family support, as well as to local community members.
"Teaching people how to not get sick might be the biggest impact we can make in public health," he said.
Basic hygiene such as washing hands can lead to a significant decrease in gastro conditions which can cause dehydration and even death, especially in a country like Cambodia where there are few ambulances and children can deteriorate quickly.
Common conditions such as skin disorders and tooth decay can also be easily addressed with education about basic hygiene and health care.
Some health issues are not so easily treated. Rob meet one elderly woman who had wounds on her feet from burns inflicted by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. The "massive" sores and damaged skin tissue had never been able to heal as she had to continue working in the fields to provide for her family.
Rob said a nursing degree from Monash provided the opportunity to work anywhere in the world. He hopes his studies, combined with experiences as a volunteer, will be the foundation for a career providing emergency health care in Australia and abroad.