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Faces of Peninsula Health: Q&A with Wendy Schinz

Wendy Schinz is a Registered Mental Health Nurse at Peninsula Health, who won the Award of Excellence (Mental Health) at our Virtual Graduate Nurse Ceremony earlier this year.

Name: Wendy Schinz

Role: Registered Mental Health Nurse

Q: Congratulations on all your achievements over the past 12 months. What does winning the Award of Excellence (Mental Health) mean to you?

A: Being a mature age graduate, winning this award has shown that with hard work and dedication, we can strive for excellence in any field that we choose, no matter our age. It was also very nice to be recognised for my hard work and commitment to Mental Health.

Q: 2020 was a difficult year for everyone across the health service, and particularly so for grad nurses like yourself. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?

A: One of the many challenges working during COVID was having to wearing face masks, shields and gowns as it made it very difficult to engage therapeutically and build a good rapport with clients. We all had to find new ways to adapt our communications skills and prevent PPE from becoming a barrier within the nurse/client relationship. I relied on a lot of consistent eye contact and smiles, but l also found myself raising my voice for clients to be able to hear me, then wondering if I was too loud.

Not being about to socialise with the other grads was a little disappointing, though we did communicate and support each other very well online.

Q: On the flip side, what were some of your highlights/proudest moments of 2020?

A: Winning this award was definitely a highlight that I am very proud of. Some other major highlights include:

  • Working in Community Care Units (CCU), a residential recovery unit, which allowed me to experience first-hand the positive contribution we as clinicians can make to the physical and mental health wellbeing of our clients when working alongside them in their recovery.
  • Having the opportunity to consolidate my mental health knowledge and skills with my undergraduate training.
  • Working in encouraging and inspiring environments with dedicated and supportive teams both at CCU and 1 West.
  • Collecting and recycling used furniture and household items to brighten up the residential units at CCU.
  • Communicating online for family meetings, reviews, graduate meetings and training, which allowed me to gain experience in positive and innovative online communications platforms which will undoubtedly continue to be used in the future.

Q: What did you learn about yourself over the course of 2020?

A: I leant that the more I knew about mental health, the less I actually knew about it.

I also learnt that I actually enjoyed some of the isolation that COVID created. It gave me a great chance to study, catch up on things around the house or just relax and watch movies.

Finally, I learnt to appreciate the more simple things in life.

Q: What advice would you give to new graduate nurses coming through in 2021?

A: Use your graduate year as an opportunity to ask questions and learn as much as possible. 

Whatever you are unsure of write – it down and research later.

Take time to really listen to clients so you can  address their main concerns.

Enjoy meeting new people, new teams and how the mental health services all fit together.