ICU Nurse is more than just a baby face


St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital’s Jared Grayling is used to people thinking he’s a baby faced, just out of university nurse.

In fact, Jared is more than qualified as St Andrew’s Intensive Care Unit Clinical Nurse Manager and currently manages a team of more than 65 nurses.

When applying to university in Melbourne, Jared had an eye on becoming a paramedic, but accepted his second choice degree in nursing with the intention of transferring over; he never quite got to transferring.

“There was something about nursing – I realised it was more than what I thought it was when I first signed up at university,” Jared said.

“Nursing was better than I expected and I just thought there was so much more we can do for our patients as a nurse.

“For my first rotation, I really wanted to be in emergency medicine because I enjoyed the paramedic/emergency side of healthcare but my preceptors thought I was better suited to ICU and to this day I still have no idea what they saw in me but they were right and I haven’t looked back.

“ICU nursing is unique for the professional autonomy you have in providing care and you observe firsthand the major milestones these critically ill patients achieve during their journey.

“Our ICU patients are a thankful group especially our deep brain stimulation and open heart patients, because they just know these procedures are going to change their lives,” Jared said.

Jared is passionate about further education and sharing his knowledge with those around him.

“As a junior ICU nurse I was fascinated by the complexity of the patients I was caring for so I completed my Graduate Certificate in Intensive Care Nursing and looking back, I think that was the moment that my addiction to tertiary study began!” he laughs.

“Then I began my Diploma of Nursing majoring in Leadership and the theory and skills I learnt moulded me into the Clinical Nurse Manager I am today.

But Jared wasn’t done yet. After moving to Brisbane in 2015 Jared completed a Masters of Health Administration which saw him study alongside doctors, allied health professionals, dentists, paramedics and other nurses alike. He believes this course gave him a wider view of hospitals and healthcare and the confidence to succeed as a leader in healthcare.

“I was always willing to learn outside what I needed to do in order to show people I was interested in what we were doing to improve outcomes and experiences for our patients,” Jared said.

Careers in nursing often aren’t in a straight line and Jared’s journey is no exception. After sustaining an injury outside of work he was encouraged to take a position within Risk and Quality for 12 months. After the contract ended, Jared accepted a position at St Andrew’s in the Risk and Quality department for 18 months before moving into his current ICU role where he has been for the past five months.

“My time in Risk and Quality really opened my eyes to the rules and regulations that govern our everyday practice, so I went back and studied again,” Jared said.

“I studied a Graduate Certificate of Applied Law Majoring in Health Law which might seem unusual for a nurse, but writing and reviewing legal papers that focus on healthcare practice can really help understand the quality systems that oversee our nursing practice.

“I enjoyed my time with Risk and Quality but I missed working in a large team environment.

“That’s what I love about nursing – being part of a large team. You work as a team, not as individuals.

“I don’t know what it is about large teams, maybe it’s that there’s lots of different personalities but you also get a chance to build people up and encourage one another,” he said.

For Jared it has been a personal challenge to have moved through roles in a short period of time.

“It’s tough when you walk into a room and people are thinking ‘who is this 12 year old and how is he going to do this job?’” Jared laughs.

You could describe Jared’s experience as ageism in reverse but he’s quick to point out that everyone at St Andrew’s has been welcoming and happy to have him as part of the team.

“I knew nobody when I came into ICU at St Andrew’s. A few people had seen me without a uniform in my role within risk and quality, and wondered if I was even a nurse,” he said.

“I’ve had enough people who believe in me so I’ve never been bothered by it. My leadership team and peer support has been overwhelming.

“I feel that patients are the ones who wonder if I’m qualified – more so in my Risk and Quality role when you’d walk into a patients room to discuss some feedback and the whole family would be there, they’d be really emotional and then I walk in. It’s the same in ICU.

“Patients and relatives are often surprised when they find out I’m in charge of the unit. One memorable moment was when a senior nurse was informing his patient that I as ‘the boss’ would be caring for him while he went on his break and the patient’s response was ‘Who? That child?!’” Jared laughs.

Jared leads his team through open communication and shared experiences and is passionate about ensuring that his team feel supported and valued. He also believes it’s important to recognise when you’ve been incorrect and acknowledge when your staff have taught you something.

So where does Jared see himself in the future?

“I don’t know where I’ll be when I grow up,” Jared laughs.

“I get asked this question a lot and I suppose I don’t see myself in a particular job title as such. It’s about who I am and what I’m doing for the people in the team I’m with–building people up and encouraging them.

“I think if you have happy and healthy staff, you have happy and healthy patients,” he said.