Nurse switches coasts and uniforms

Published on LEUT Tony White (author), CMDR Chloe Griggs (author), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (photographer)

Topic(s): Training, HMAS Anzac (F150), Defence Force Recruiting

Nursing Officer, Lieutenant Angus Thompson experiences life at sea in the sickbay of HMAS Anzac during Phase 4 of the Reserve Entry Officers' Course. (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
Nursing Officer, Lieutenant Angus Thompson experiences life at sea in the sickbay of HMAS Anzac during Phase 4 of the Reserve Entry Officers' Course.

Wollongong nurse Angus Thompson ditched his usual intensive care nursing uniform for a camouflage outfit last year, as he finalised his Navy Reserve Officer training onboard the Navy frigate HMAS Anzac on a trip across the top of Australia.

The trip, which started in Darwin and finished in Sydney, saw Lieutenant Thompson consolidate his earlier military training ashore with his medical qualifications so that he is now ready to be deployed as required by Navy.

As a Reserve Entry Officer - Lieutenant Thompson joined the Navy just south of his hometown, at HMAS Creswell, on the shores of Jervis Bay. The base on the south coast of New South Wales is the home of the Royal Australian Naval College, which trains two courses of Reserve officers annually.

Specialists such as nurses, psychologists, doctors, chaplains, public affairs practitioners and maritime trade experts, join the Navy through the scheme and render service in parallel to full-time civilian careers.

Australian Defence Force medical staff such as Lieutenant Thompson are employed in a variety of challenging scenarios including deploying on operations, bringing their critical care skills to complex and remote situations.

The training undertaken by Lieutenant Thompson at sea was the final step in his journey to become mission ready which will see him employee his intensive care nursing skills anywhere in Australia and overseas.

For Lieutenant Thompson spending time in Anzac was an important introduction to the challenges of life at sea.

“It was a great introduction to Navy life at sea from all the different departments’ perspective,” Lieutenant Thompson said.

Navy Nurses serve both full-time and in the Reserve as members of multi-disciplinary teams responsible for the good health of Navy personnel. Workplaces vary from well-equipped hospitals ashore to clinics on ships and facilities under canvas when deployed in international teams on operations. Reserve nurses often deploy at short notice from their civilian roles as part of Australian Defence Force support to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions.

Lieutenant Thompson had previously completed leadership and management modules, drill training, the Navy swimming and fitness tests, a pistol course and security awareness training at Creswell. He was then required to complete another eight modules via distance learning on topics such as how to write in a Defence style, basic warfare, naval history, the Defence Force Discipline Act and Maritime Doctrine. These units are self-paced over 12 months to allow for members to combine service with civilian work requirements.

Before he proceeded to sea he was also trained in basic survival at sea, along with leak and damage repair techniques. The aim of the sea training deployment, which usually takes about three weeks, is to familiarise Reserve members with all the parts of a working ship, to enable their specialist skills to be readily employed in the future.

Lieutenant Thompson will be applying his intensive care skills across a range of defence operational environments across the world in the near future. If you'd like to join him visit