Townsville born Helen had her sights set on a career as a teacher after graduating from St Margaret Mary’s College until a work experience placement set her on a new path.
"I wanted to be a Maths or Science teacher but seeing first-hand what nurses did changed that,’’ Helen said.
"In my 17-year-olds mind all I wanted to do was look after people and make them better,’’ Helen said.
"I wasn’t looking at the long term prospects of a career in nursing, it was all about just helping patients.’’
"I am passionate about helping and educating people who have a stoma so that they feel less fearful and more confident.’’Helen Johnston
Helen went on to complete her three-year hospital-based training at the Mater then after a stint working around Australia returned home to family and friends in Townsville.
Fast forward 35 years and Helen now has the best of both worlds. A dual role of Clinical Documentation Specialist where she can apply her extensive clinical knowledge including 18 years as Surgical Unit Nurse Manager, to improve patient outcomes through correct documentation and the Stomal Therapy role where she works directly with patients applying a patient centred care model.
Helen first began working with the then Mater’s Stomal Therapy Nurse in 1985 and when she retired took over the role.
"It’s a job that I love,’’ Helen said.
"I am passionate about helping and educating people who have a stoma so that they feel less fearful and more confident.’’
She said people with a Stoma often didn’t feel comfortable talking to even family and friends.
"You build up strong relationships with patients who can turn to you for support them.’’