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The step into the COVID-19 response was an easy one for Renea Collins, as someone who is always willing to take a leap and land on her feet “most times”.
However, working on the frontline of the COVID-19 response as Program Director of the Metro South Health Vaccination Program, in a perpetual state of disaster response, is not always easy.
Health workers have been on a journey since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Renea said she, like many of us, had to find ways to cope with the understandable pressures and stress.
“Maybe what COVID-19 has given us all is what it took away for awhile - the preciousness of physical closeness with those you care about,” she said.
Renea believes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought somewhat of a focus on what is important in life: “being less worried about what or where you’re going to be in 5 or 10 years and being present in the moment.”
“I am a pretty easily-pleased type of individual, so being able to spend time with my partner and planning our re-scheduled wedding, having a 7-year-old who makes you laugh and cry with her compassion for others, hanging out with my beautiful lifelong friends, listening to music and taking an uninterrupted bath are all ways to cope with the pressures.”
Reflecting on International Women’s Day, Renea said: “I think the common and trusted role women have in nursing is one of care and nurturing qualities. What I have seen especially over the last few years is that the role of women in any profession is becoming less gender-based and more proficiency-based in the role, so irrespective of gender anyone can excel.
“When it comes to team performance and balance, this is where having diversity becomes important and this is much more than the traditional male-female ratios. Women will always play an integral role in healthcare as care providers and consumers of care.”
Prior to her current role, Renea was involved in the statewide rollout of the ieMR - the integrated electronic medical record system which replaced paper-based medical charts - and sees women in technology as an area with plenty of room to grow.
“Not to disrespect the female informatic pioneers like Florence Nightingale before us, but diversity in roles traditionally held by men is becoming broader,” she said.
“I am looking forward to not just women stepping boldly into the digital healthcare realm but opportunities for healthcare professionals and consumers to create new roles and ways to deliver healthcare using the power of technology and information.”