Get to know: Elisha O’Dowd
In today’s ‘Get to know’ profile, we catch up with Elisha O’Dowd, Nurse Unit Manager – Infection Prevention and Surveillance.
Firstly, what’s your coffee order?
Soy latte, IV please.
Can you tell us about your Northern Health journey?
Originally, way back in the day, I studied business (HR and organisation behavior!) Then, after becoming a mum, I decided to switch to nursing.
I started as a graduate nurse in cardiac/medical in Unit D (the old-old Unit G, now Ward 15). After six months, I moved to emergency and fell in love with emergency nursing. I quickly did my postgrad in nursing practice – ED and became a Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), then an Associate Nurse Unit Manager (ANUM).
I also spent a few years splitting my role in ED with educating staff in ‘Strengthening Hospital Response to Family Violence’, moving up to becoming a Project Manager in 2021. During the pandemic, I took on the role of Project Manager of the COVID-19 testing sites and screening, which is where I discovered my passion for infection prevention and became IPS Manager in August last year. It has been a wild ride at Northern Health and I have loved every minute!
What is your greatest achievement or favourite memory since working here?
There are so many great things to reflect on, however, as an LGBTIQ+ ally, I have been involved in the Rainbow Working Group for several years. I have helped design education for staff, as well as engage in conversations to improve outcomes for our LGBTIQ+ colleagues, patients, and community in the north. This has already resulted in some great initiatives and more to come!
How do you relax after a long day?
I love singing, long walks and running, however, with three teenage boys, life is always busy!
Which Northern Health value do you relate to best and why?
Kindness. There is nothing like it – to approach people with a smile and say good morning, get to know people’s names, notice when others need a hand, and communicate with kindness always. It brings in the other values of safe and together as well, because when we notice safety concerns with kindness, people are more receptive to change, and when we communicate with kindness and empathy, people are more likely to want to work together.
Where is a favourite place you’ve travelled and why?
Oh, I love travel! New York this year was amazing – a life-long dream, but the journey that changed my life was as a scholarship exchange student to Japan in 1998. I was so young and shy, but that trip showed me what I was truly capable of and put me way outside my comfort zone. I not only learnt a language and culture, I learnt who I was as a person and met some incredible people.
What’s your favourite inspirational quote or figure?
I am inspired by strong women who have leaned into their power with grace and kindness to make the world a better place. Women like Bernadette Black OAM of the Brave Foundation, who has turned teenage unplanned parenthood into better opportunities for young parents all over Australia to continue education and grow as capable parents. No matter the barriers, anything is possible for those willing to step into their light.