St Andrew’s Assistant Director of Nursing Sonya Vargas and son and assistant in nursing Raphael Vargas celebrate International Nurses Day.

International Nurses Day will span across the generations at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital this Thursday, as new and long-standing nurses celebrate their careers of caring at the Spring Hill not-for-profit health care facility.

The annual international celebration of nursing marks the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth and pays tribute to the profession and the significant contribution of nurses worldwide.

Among those celebrating the occasion is Assistant Director of Nursing at St Andrew’s Sonya Vargas and son Raphael Vargas who works as a casual assistant in nursing at the hospital.

Sonya says this year’s theme, A Force for Change: Improving health systems’ resilience is indicative of nurses at St Andrew’s.

“Everyday our nurses aim to provide patients the best care possible,” Mrs Vargas said.

For Sonya, nursing was a lifelong dream she had since the age of three.

“At 15-years-old, my mum helped me get a job in a nursing home as an assistant in nursing. The work was so hard, but it did not turn me off nursing but rather cemented my desire to become one,” she said.

“I think if you’re someone who believes that everyone regardless of who or where they are in life, deserves dignity and to be cared for, then nursing is the right profession for you.”

In her late teens, Sonya undertook on-the-job training at Toowoomba Base Hospital and later went on to complete a degree in nursing.  

“When you’re a nurse, you put your hand up for any type of job, whether it be pleasant or unpleasant and/or tedious or exciting. When you show you’re willing to do anything, people see that you actually care and have a good work ethic – then you are more likely to be given the opportunity to move forward,” she said.

“I was fortunate the UnitingCare Health hospital group have given me many opportunities.”

Sonya worked in various roles including theatre nurse, nurse educator and nurse in charge of theatre at The Wesley Hospital across 23 years until landing her dream role as Assistant Director of Nursing (ADON) at St Andrew’s.

“I always wanted to be an ADON. The day I got the job here was the best day of my career. Becoming an ADON has been my 20-year-plan since I was 25 years old,” she said.

Sonya has been St Andrew’s ADON for four years and enjoys the responsibility and diversity of working in the operating theatres.

Her son Raphael has also followed his heart into nursing for the variety of work and opportunities the profession offers.

“As a nurse our practice can be broad, with duties varying every day for each role. You can be a nurse in emergency, ICU, an outpatient clinic with a GP, or in the community as a nurse at a school or resort,” Raphael said.

“It offers more scope than other healthcare professions I was looking into.”

Raphael works in nursing on Ward 4E with his duties ranging from showers, mobilisation, rounding and general patient care.

St Andrew’s Director of Nursing Rosemarie White says International Nurses Day was a wonderful opportunity to highlight the important role nurses play in strengthening and improving health systems around the world.

“The proactive, person-centred care that our nurses provide is a big reason why St Andrew’s is able to provide first-class care with world-class results for our community,” Mrs White said.

“We are fortunate to have dedicated teams of nurses, many of whom have worked with us for many years, and Florence Nightingale’s birthday is the perfect time to reflect on and celebrate the valuable contribution they make within our hospital.”

St Andrew’s employs about 600 nurses, full-time, part-time and casually. It has specialty nurses across the spectrum including intensive care nursing, emergency nursing, cardiac nursing, operating theatre, orthopaedics, diabetes, wound care, infection control and rehabilitation.

It is one of four not-for-profit hospitals under the UnitingCare Health group.