St Stephen’s Hospital Clinical Nurse Toby Warburton used to be a professional actor and travelled around Queensland, playing comedic relief Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Today, you’ll find Toby in the more serious surrounds of the hospital’s surgical ward.
Toby’s first degree was in Creative Arts, majoring in Acting, and landed a plum role with Shakespeare in the Park. He had a glimpse into what healthcare could be like when he was asked to assist student counsellors by simulating mental health patients.
“We had to act as patients who had multiple diagnoses like schizophrenia and bipolar, and through these tasks, I developed an understanding of the patient and their needs,” Toby said.
This unusual crossover got him thinking.
“I was able to empathise with these patients and I questioned what I wanted to do with myself as I realised acting wasn’t going to be my forever career,” Toby said.
“My mum is a Blue Care nurse so I’ve always been exposed to nursing, so I decided to give it a go, and I’ve never looked back.
“I have a caring nature and can easily empathise with people and initially I got into nursing to do mental health but I shifted away from that after realising I preferred the busyness of a surgical ward which is where I am today,” he said.
Originally from Toowoomba, Toby spent a few years working rurally after completing his nursing degree in 2014.
“I had some friends who moved up to Hervey Bay and I used to visit them quite regularly and realised I loved the place so I decided to move,” Toby said.
“At the end of 2017 I applied for and was offered a job at St Stephen’s – I got a new job and moved all within a month!
“I love working in a digital hospital. I love the ability to read documentation and access patient charts with multiple users as well as increased safety protocols around medication dispensing,” he said.
Toby believes one of the most interesting parts of nursing is that you never know what you’re walking into when you start your shift.
“Every day is different here and I like the variety,” Toby said
“Some patients don’t like to talk about their health, especially men. Urology surgery and removal of the prostate are common in our hospital so I’m often having important conversations around men’s health.
“I’m passionate about helping them to understand what’s happening and that it’s ok to talk about these things,” he said.
Toby believes it’s important build up therapeutic relationships with patients.
“When you take time to get to know a patient’s story and what path they’ve walked in life, it changes how you nurse,” Toby said.
“Understanding the needs of the whole person can help with their treatment such as involving other services they need to help they get home sooner.
“It’s really satisfying when you can ask those broad questions and invite the patient into those conversations to talk about their health,” he said.
Toby’s time at St Stephen’s has been full of opportunity. He’s received a scholarship from UnitingCare to study Acute Care through University of Tasmania, was successfully appointed to a Clinical Nurse role and was seconded into the student educator role.
“I do enjoy the teaching and learning role but with everything I’ve done, it’s more about constantly moving forward and constantly growing,” Toby said.
“That’s the key I think for your career and life really, if you get stale, you get bored. It’s very hard to get stale in nursing!” he laughs.
Like most nurses, Toby doesn’t do what he does for thanks, but is often moved by patients and their families who write directly to St Stephen’s Hospital thanking him personally for their care.
“When they deliberately go home and take the time to write an email or a letter of thanks for something you did for them, it makes you feel really great about your job and reaffirms what you do,” Toby said.
“What we do in nursing is a team effort and there are so many nurses in the wards and around the hospital who go above and beyond with their patients and peers.
“I am grateful to everyone for their support during my time with UnitingCare and St Stephen’s,” he said.
So where does Toby see himself in the future?
“I just bought my first house here in Hervey Bay so I’m officially staying!” he said.