Life On The Job


Life on the Job

NURSE: Heather Machin, former Director of Nursing for the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital

Heather Machin with child
Heather with Esther

ACU nursing graduate Heather Machin never knows what her day will bring, but that’s to be expected when you work in a flying hospital and help treat blind patients all over the world.

The 31-year-old is Director of Nursing for the ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital, which brings together dedicated eye care professionals and aviators to give the gift of sight to developing countries around the world.

Onboard the refurbished DC-10 jet aircraft, local doctors, nurses and biomedical technicians from developing countries work alongside ORBIS’s international medical team to exchange knowledge and improve their skills.

Heather said her job was not only interesting and rewarding, but different every single day.

“It’s an incredibly diverse role and on any given day I can be working on accreditation and policy development, doing my nursing duties, serving as a flight attendant, helping with fundraising campaigns or even loading cargo,” she said. 

“The cases we see are often very severe and advanced eye conditions, but because of the huge amount of travel, sometimes the biggest challenge for me is simply remembering what day and time it is.”

In the 48-seat classroom at the front of the plane, doctors give lectures, discussions and live broadcasts of surgical procedures being performed nearby in the Flying Eye Hospital operating room.

The local trainees can observe the surgeries and ask questions of the operating surgeons via a two-way audio-visual system.


ORBIS


As the only Australian on board and a graduate from ACU’s Bachelor of Nursing in Brisbane, Heather is away from home for around 45 weeks of the year.

“I absolutely love my job, and it’s really shown me what I’m capable of,” she said. “Despite the thousands of different people we see every year, with 50 per cent of those being children, there are always those especially inspiring patients that stand out.

“One is Esther, a five-year old, severely cross-eyed orphan from a village in Uganda. Her resilience was amazing; she was always smiling, always dancing, and just the life of the party.

YouTube: ORBIS EyeReport 7 - Meet Esther in Uganda - 2010
(URL: https://youtu.be/JmTj3-wD_Zs)

 


“The eagerness of the local medical staff to learn is also amazing, they want so badly to gain the skills to help their people.”

In the 19 months since she got the job, Heather has been to India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Dubai, Oman, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and more both on program and during planning times.

Heather carrying a child

“I particularly love returning to places I have worked before and seeing how the skills we helped them develop have made such a big difference to their practice,” she said.

“There are people who I have worked with from all corners of the globe who I am now proud to call my friends.”

Since its first program in 1982, the hospital has trained 960 ophthalmologists, performed over 300 patient surgical cases on board, travelled to more than 70 countries and saved the sight of millions of people.

Heather sitting on the engine of the plane




The ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital
https://youtu.be/DQHkOW827E4




Heather now works for the Global Alliance of Eye Bank Associations

GAEBA

 


Activities

Design a model of the eye

PrimaryPrimary MiddleMiddle

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking

1. Investige the eye and its diseases.

2. Select one disease to illustrate with a papier mache model.

3. Design a model of the Eye showing the particular disease you have investigated.

4. Use the following websites as resources:

Eye Facts

eye facts

Your Eyes

Your eyes

   

How to make Papier Mache: Fast Easy Paper Mache Recipe
https://youtu.be/KaLmdRBvGG4

 

 

How your eyes work - Kids Health
https://youtu.be/syaQgmxb5i0

 

 

Eye Health amongst our Indigenous Australians

High SchoolSecondary

IndigenousAustralian Cross Curriculum Priority: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking

Personal and social capabilityAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Personal and social capability

 

1. Investigate a report on eye health amongst Indigenous Australians:

AIHW
2. Investigate Creative Spirits - Trachoma and eye health

Trachoma and eye health

3. Design a Prezi showing how you could raise awareness of high school schools to the plight of Indigenous children and challenge them to help the Fred Hollows Foundation

Fred Hollows Foundation

 

Inequality in eye health - is this Just?

High SchoolSecondary

Ethical Understanding Australian Curriculum General Capability: Ethical Understanding

IndigenousAustralian Cross Curriculum Priority: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking

Personal and social capabilityAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Personal and social capability

1. Read the following:

"The eye health of Indigenous people before non-Indigenous people came to Australia was probably very good. In fact, it is believed that the vision of Indigenous people was better than that of non-Indigenous people.

Today, however, it is likely that the eye health of Indigenous people is not as good as that of non-Indigenous people. The level of blindness among Indigenous people appears to be higher than that among non-Indigenous people, with some eye problems much more common among Indigenous people than among non-Indigenous people.

Importantly, Indigenous people are less likely than non-Indigenous people to receive appropriate levels of eye health services and treatment as should be expected in a prosperous country like Australia." (Source: Australian Indigenous Health Info Net)

2020 Vision

"Overall, 94% of vision loss is preventable or treatable, but 35% of adults have never had an eye exam." (Source: National Indigenous Eye Health Survey)

2. Use Kahoot! to create a game that can be shared as a campaign to raise awareness in all Australians about this inequality in eye health;  argue about the injustice of this situation; and, offer some practical solutions. 

Kahoot

 

 

Want to read another story about a Nurse.......read Johnathon's story

Life on the Job

 

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