Tammy uses her experience to help other international nurses

Tammy Pilton-Pluck, an international nurse from Australia. She is pictured wearing a dark blue nurses' uniform

Published 28 July 2022

Nurses from around the world are part of the team at East Kent Hospitals – but few have travelled further than Australian Tammy Pilton-Pluck who joined the Trust back in 2018.

Tammy is part of the education team in the general and specialist medicine care group, and it is this team who led the way in making sure international nurses are really welcomed and supported to settle in and find their feet. What started as a one-day induction delivered by Tammy and her now matron Kathrin Penticost-Turnbull, quickly transformed into the creation of a ‘foster ward’ programme so all newly arrived nurses to the care group are nurtured and given a positive experience.

She said: “People think my experience is different because they see a lot of similarities between the UK and Australia. But it is a totally different culture that surprised me when I first moved here.

“Wherever we are from, we all have to build a life here, build relationships and learn how things work.

“Seeing how we now embrace and care for our internationally educated nurses is encouraging and I am proud to have been part of that.”

Tammy chose nursing after helping to look after friend’s child who had cystic fibrosis, supporting with her care and physiotherapy. Her own daughter also had health issues as a child so she witnessed the valuable contribution nurses made.

But it was not an easy career path, particularly as she was a single mum at the time.

She said: “I worked full time and studied full time with my first child, and in my last year after taking a break of study I was breastfeeding a three-week-old baby in a lecture theatre.

“I wanted my daughter to know that your circumstances don’t define you or stop you from achieving.

“I wanted to be a positive role model for her and have a respected career, and nursing gave me that.”

Now a mum of two, Tammy brought her husband and daughters with her when she moved to the UK, partly so they could grow up with their cousins who live here.

She said: “Nurse education and hospitals in Australia are second to none, so family was one of the reasons for the move, but I also wanted to have the opportunity to travel and see other countries.

“It was about investment in my career and nursing in a different country could give me a new challenge. The principles of nursing are the same wherever you go, no matter what the differences in resources or hierarchy.

“It was challenging for us all to leave friendships and family behind but there are so many benefits, to us and to the Trust.

“Internationally educated nurses bring a different viewpoint and different ways of doing things, and if we can open ourselves up and embrace our differences we can learn from each other.

“The improvement for patients is that vast and varied experience from around the world informing practice. We do have a diverse community and having a diverse workforce that matches that means we can better support everyone.”