Like mother like daughter - born to be a nurse


If St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital’s Complex Care Coordinator Rosemarie Klingberg could give her 16 year-old self any advice, it would be that following her mothers’ life work of caring for others is a rewarding and wonderful journey. 

Rosemarie’s mother was a Voluntary Nurse in Longreach in the 1970s and she would join her mother on regular rounds of visiting the vulnerable in the community who required assistance and support. 

“I grew up with a great of role model in my mum but as a teenage girl, I just didn’t want to be like my mum, I thought teaching was going to be my life! It’s only as we get older that we realise how remarkable our parents actually were,” Rosemarie said.

Rosemarie received an offer to study teaching however, paid hospital-based nursing training with live in accommodation, was too much of a draw card. Rosemarie deferred teaching with the intent to save money and commence her teacher training the following year. 

“The saving of money didn’t happen as I was so busy having wonderful time training in Toowoomba and I made some life long best friends – I gave the thought of teaching away and I have never looked back,” she said.

Rosemarie has worked for UnitingCare Queensland for 31 years and has been the St Andrew’s Complex Care Coordinator for the past 11 years. During this time there have been many changes in the nursing profession. 

“When I began my nursing career in Mackay with the Blue Nursing Service we didn’t have mobile phones or a two-way radio,” Rosemarie said.

“You’d arrive at a client’s house to receive a message to call the office so you’d use the client’s home phone to call.

“There were no GPS - we’d be navigating using a street directory! The evolution in technology which now supports community nursing has made significant improvement to the role today,” she says.

Following her career in Mackay, Rosemarie moved to Barcaldine with her husband David and commenced work within both the community and local hospital.

“I was the RN in charge of the hospital as well being on call in the community and on reflection this was quite a responsibility at the age of 25,” Rosemarie said.

Rosemarie’s career has seen her at the forefront of many exciting changes within Uniting Health Care.

“Throughout my time in community nursing I oversaw many changes including the addition of roles for community based  Allied Health Staff, Personal Care Workers and Domestic Assistants,” Rosemarie said.

“Perhaps the most significant change was the introduction of Home Care Packages. I feel very fortunate to have been part of this development process and facilitating positive change in Community Nursing,” she said.

Rosemarie is passionate about planning and implementing supportive palliative care. 

“Nursing is about supporting people when they are most vulnerable and it’s an absolute privilege to have an impact on this most challenging part of their life,” Rosemarie said.

“Patients have a significant influence on your life as well, in a major or subtle way, and it’s a privilege to get to know their stories – I can’t always remember their name, but I always remember their story,” she said. 

Rosemarie’s personal and professional experiences have formed the foundation for a passion for palliative care.

“My personal experience has given me the opportunity to reassure people that the physical pain they’re feeling, is actually grief. I believe you can only give good end of life or good care if you are in touch with your own mortality,” she said.

Asked to describe what makes her such passionate nurse, Rosemarie reflects for just a moment.

“I feel a sense of personal reward when I get to see someone living their best life,” Rosemarie said.

“Complex Care Nurses are much more than the previously termed Discharge Planners. We speak with people before their planned hospitalisation, in the Emergency Centre and following discharge.

“Working with families in these times can be challenging, however the rewards of good outcomes far outweigh the bad.

“It’s also special when patients make a point of coming back to the hospital saying thank you. That’s when I know I am making a difference,” she said.

Rosemarie finds the support and culture at St Andrew’s unique and special.

“When other staff acknowledge the importance of how your role contributes to a patient’s experience – that’s very special,” Rosemarie said.

“We are lucky to have a work culture of everyone joining together toward a common goal – looking after each other and our patients. It’s a place I am happy to be,” she said.