Steven Johnson always knew he wanted to be a healthcare worker. Having a mother who is a nurse instilled in him the desire to help people. While he initially dreamt of becoming a paediatrician, seeing the work his mother did over the years changed his mind.

When he completed secondary school, Steven applied and got accepted to study a three-year Diploma in General Nursing at the Lae School of Nursing in 2018. The Australian Government, through its partnership with Newcrest Mining Limited, supported Steven’s studies with a private-sector sponsored Australia Awards scholarship.

The clinical skills and knowledge Steven acquired were immediately in demand when he graduated at the end of 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Steven joined the COVID-19 vaccination and surveillance team at ANGAU Memorial General Hospital as a junior nursing officer. He came to appreciate his role as a care giver.

“I personally enjoyed working with people with different perspectives who came in for vaccination. I got to empathise and comprehend everyone’s beliefs and lifestyles,” says Steven.

Recently, with a decrease in COVID-19 cases, Steven moved into the special care nursery, looking after sick newborns. Steven explains that it’s a highly demanding job because a newborn needs constant attention to ensure their needs are met.

“For the first time, I found myself challenged with managing time. [During one shift] I would look after 25 newborns. I have to prepare their milk, sterilise their milking cups, do canulation for intravenous therapy, take vital observations and weigh them at four in the morning.”

Despite the demanding work and long hours, Steven loves his job, something he says he got from seeing his mother’s commitment to her work.

“For better service delivery we must be committed, hardworking and focused on our goals. The way we approach our patients too, has to be welcoming for their fast recovery.”

As Steven continues to ensure the best care for his patients, he aspires to become a midwife in the future. Recognising that many women in Morobe Province, especially in the remote areas, are still dying from preventable health problems, Steven is challenging himself to contribute to better health services for mothers.