April 30, 2020

Naomi Kent: Nurse turned OHS team leader

Sydney born and bred Naomi Kent, Team Leader Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) now calls Melbourne home, after changing not only the state she resided in, but her occupation as well.

She joined Northern Health in October 2018, and in her role provides OHS advice, looks at all OHS incidents and liaises with affected staff members and managers. In her role, she also provides advice and support with OHS risk management .

“I started my career as a registered nurse, and worked in nursing for 8 years while living in New South Wales. At some point, I went back to university and started doing a Medical Science degree but never finished. It was then, I started thinking ‘what would  I like to do for the rest of my life?’, as healthcare has always been my passion,” Naomi said.

It was a series of circumstances that led Naomi towards a new career path.

“I remember that day when I had just 24 hours to make a decision. I went to two interviews, one for a full time nursing role and one for a claims management position in an insurance company. I then took the path less traveled, took the insurance job and did that for about four years,” she said.

It was in this role that she did her Return to Work coordinator course and moved on to work as a Return to Work coordinator for a NSW health service. She also started her Masters degree in OHS.

Moving to Melbourne was a life-long wish, having travelled to Melbourne a few times.

“Working in health and safety, I wanted to challenge myself and and I knew the legislation is different in every state. I wanted to see what I could transfer and what I could learn,” she said.

Naomi saw a job ad for Northern Health, took a flight to meet the team and went back to Sydney to wait for the outcome.

“I had a holiday booked and was waiting in line to board my Hawaii plane when I got a call from Northern. It was a sliding doors moment. I remember thinking – ‘I answer this call now and my life is completely changing. If I don’t answer, I will just continue on the path I am currently’. I took a deep breath, answered the phone and moved to Melbourne,” she said.

Naomi added she has always been willing to take a chance to see what she is really capable of doing and how far outside of her comfort zone she can push herself.

“I really enjoy the people I work with at Northern Health, both within my team and in the organisation. This is a very friendly and open organisation,” she added.

“I have grown so much since coming here,” says Naomi.

She feels her new occupation is now actually an extension of her nursing career.

“At orientation, I usually say to our new staff – ‘You are here to look after patients, I am here to look after you’. I used to be the one caring for patients, now I am caring for healthcare workers,” she added.