Carolyn Heise always knew she wanted a career where she was able to care for others. Being part of the health sector was a natural fit and has been her calling for almost 30 years. Carolyn is now thrilled to be working in what she calls her “dream job”.
What is your role, and where do you work?
I am the Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Manager of Inpatient Services at Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
What made you want to become a nurse?
As a younger person, still at high school in Tamworth, two of my first jobs were working in a disability group home (in school holidays) and as a pharmacy assistant on weekends.
Also at the end of school, one of my best friends lost his battle with Motor Neurone Disease. I was very much part of this journey with him, his family and other close friends. As I watched him struggle to let go of life at 19 years of age, I realised that I wanted to help people with terminal illness. This was a huge and life changing point for me in so many ways. From a young age I was on a health carer’s journey.
Why do you enjoy being a nurse?
Nursing is such a wonderful career in so many ways. It is a humbling profession where we care for people and their loved ones during the most vulnerable times in their lives. For me, nursing is also the most rewarding, diverse, and flexible career.
On a daily basis, nurses and midwives do so much for so many. Whether they’re helping patients, comforting families, teaching students, or working as a nursing manager, our days are always busy and diverse.
There are numerous opportunities to expand a nursing career in a wide variety of venues. I chose nursing leadership and management, because I wanted to help shape the future of the nursing profession.
Have there been moments in your nursing career that have changed your life?
There have been so many life-changing moments throughout my journey. Living in Alice Springs and working in remote town camps and Aboriginal communities was an absolute eye-opener and career highlight.
After so many years of studying and caring for others, I found that 2017 was to be a huge year for me both personally and professionally. My daughter turned 21, my son finished Year 12, and I began seizing opportunities to relieve in senior roles across the Local Health District.
I really pushed myself to the next level professionally, and I’m so glad I did. I facilitated forums, addressed conferences, conducted television interviews and just happened to be acting General Manager at Coffs Harbour Health Campus during the busiest winter on record.
This all led to me applying for, and being successful in gaining, the role of Director of Nursing and Midwifery and Manager of Inpatient Services, which is really my dream job.
Why did you choose to pursue the leadership path?
Early in my journey into nursing I gravitated to leadership roles and have been supported by the Mid North Coast Local Health District with many opportunities to grow and develop.
I am passionate about the services we provide to our communities, about the amazing staff that I have the pleasure to work alongside and about always improving what we do.
The executives that have had the biggest influence on my career all seemed to be natural leaders, respectful communicators with the highest levels of integrity and a clear code of ethics. While having a quiet confidence in themselves, they always have visible confidence in the team surrounding them. They provide guidance, share knowledge and expectations, take a genuine interest in others, display empathy and acknowledge our achievements regularly.
Having also worked in non-nursing positions such as in the Human Resources Team and in Quality Improvement Projects, I have been able to expand my skills and knowledge.
I now find myself in a place where I have the important role of being a leader and mentor to others on their professional journey – it is my aim to support, inspire and empower others to be our future leaders.
You literally “danced” out of your comfort zone last year when you and NSW Ambulance Regional Manager Evan Clarke took part in Coffs Coast Dancing with the Stars. Tell us about that experience.
Evan and I had so much fun learning to dance together and fumble our way through a wonderfully-choreographed routine, but for both it was all about helping to raise money for cancer research.
We were so well supported by the amazing people of the Coffs Coast, and the fact that we were able to raise $15,000 made us both very proud of this wonderful community we live in.
You are a very busy person; do you get time to relax?
Absolutely! I like nothing more than to be with my family; we are so very close, and I am always energised by them. We live in such a beautiful part of the world, so whenever I get the chance I love getting back to nature through bushwalking and camping.