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From city to country nursing: Q&A with Tracey Quinn

Tracey Quinn is a pastry chef-turned-nurse who recently made the switch to rural health. Having been based in the south-western suburbs of Melbourne for most of her career, she was initially nervous at the prospect of working as a rural nurse.

Tracey came across an RWAV advertisement for a nursing role at Springs Medical in Daylesford. Immediately drawn to the proactive health measures and community centred focus of the practice, she snapped up the opportunity to take the next step in her career.

We caught up with Tracey to hear a bit more about her journey, and how she’s found the transition from city to country.

Tell us about your career journey

I wasn’t a nurse originally, I was a pastry chef and after I had children I decided to do something different. The original goal was to be a midwife but after doing my placements I realised that I just really loved nursing. My first job was with Altona Superclinic. It was bit of a baptism by fire. You would see upwards to 100 patients a day, and obviously during cold and flu season it would be almost double that. It was an extremely busy clinic but now looking back, I actually really appreciate the experience – it made me a very time efficient nurse and gave me a lot of skills.

I really did quite enjoy it, but then we moved rurally. We moved to Gordon, which is sort of between Bacchus Marsh and Ballarat, and I was still commuting daily to Altona, and that was really becoming quite painful.

I had been thinking I’ll jump on Seek and have a look. The RWAV ad appeared for Springs Medical in Daylesford, and it just seemed like divine intervention. I thought, I’ll stick my resume in; what’s the harm. The more I read about the job, the more I wanted it and felt that it was fate. It just really spoke to me. 

How did you find the RWAV recruitment process?

Angela (RWAV Recruitment Program Coordinator) took the time to really talk me through what both companies were about, so what RWAV does and what your aim is, and also having that relationship with Springs Medical, she knew them quite well. She knew what they expected and what they were looking for, and what they needed in a nurse.

The information helped me to put together my application letter and how to present myself in the best way, as well as what to expect. I was very nervous about moving to rural health – whether I would fit in and whether or not I’d be able to be an asset to the company. So, I felt that I went in with a good understanding of what the rural health needs are, and that really helped me to see that I would be a good fit.

I had only interviewed once for a nursing position before and it was a really informal interview. There wasn’t really much for me to fall back on to say that I’ve done this successfully. Angela talked me through all of it, then I had the interview and that went really well. I just had the feeling that this was my job, it was tailor made for me and I really wanted it. 

What in particular drew you to the job at Springs Medical?

The preventative health measures they have in place. Springs is very proactive, for example they have programs like the Put a Spring in Your Step Program, the Women’s Wellness Programs, and now we’ve just started with a transgender clinic. They’re about looking at steps ahead instead of just re-acting to people’s health issues.

We’re educating the community, we’re really getting the patients involved and active in their own health choices, and really empowering them about what they can do to help their chronic illnesses and that sort of thing.

Additionally, at Springs, because it’s a smaller company, they really try to make you the best health professional that you can be, and they are encouraging about fostering your own special interests. For example, I love wounds, I absolutely love wounds, so they’ve really been instrumental in me taking a hand in that in our clinic and moving us forward, getting us up to best practice.

In your opinion, what have been the biggest differences working in rural health compared to working in the city?

The biggest difference is the relationship you get to form. You’re not just shuttling clients in and out the door. You really get to understand what’s going on in their lives, because you’ve got the time to build that relationship.

Being such a small community, you see clients quite regularly. From a holistic health perspective, it really makes it easy to understand what their needs are, to understand what kind of person they are. You know instantly what kind of person is going to follow your health directive, and what person won’t. So, you cater your care for who that person is.

Whereas when you’re working in metro, you never get to know them as well as I have been able to in rural health. I think that’s one of the major differences that I really love – being able to foster that relationship with the patient. They know me, I know them, and being able to tailor their health needs a bit more appropriately.

In saying that, it has been an eye opener. In Altona it was really quite easy to get people help when they needed. In rural, it is slower and harder to find the information you need. Getting my head around that was a bit of a challenge at first, but Springs are super helpful with that. There is always somebody who knows what to do; we’ve got quite a diverse nursing staff there.

Any advice for health professionals who are looking to make the transition from city to country?

Nobody expects you to know everything jumping straight in. Especially with the Springs team, they’re very open to not only helping you when you need it but also encouraging you to step up. When you know something more, they’ll encourage you to speak up and say when something is best practice, or offer suggestions on what you might do in a situation.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There’s no such thing as a silly question. You have to come in without pre-conceived notions and just be a bit more fluid.

Are you interested in work opportunities in regional and rural Victoria? RWAV provides a free end-to-end recruitment service for health professionals seeking opportunities in primary health care. We also provide grants to support your professional development needs.

See our current vacancies here. To speak to a member of our dedicated Recruitment Team, reach us on 03 9349 7800 or email recruitment@rwav.com.au.

Msc (Fin), FCCA, FGIA, CA

Shay brings over 20 years of financial
management experience in commercial and not-for-profit organizations. He has a
rich and varied experience in multiple finance and leadership roles in the
United Kingdom and Australia, including CFO, GM Finance & IT, Commercial
Manager Operations, Finance Manager and Accountant.

His extensive leadership experience is
augmented by an FGIA, FCCA, CA, a Masters in Finance and an undergraduate degree in
accounting and finance.

RN, GradDip(Health Promotion), PRINCE2, Mini MBA

Kate is a Registered Nurse highly experienced in health promotion and project management. Her people and program management skills enable her to be agile and adaptable while maintaining an outcomes focus on improving quality access to primary healthcare.

Kate’s extensive experience working with all levels of government, the community and stakeholders across the sector have provided her with insights into the challenges rural communities and health professionals face. Kate has led the design and delivery of many innovative and strategic health promotion and grants programs, supporting better access to health services, health information and activities across communities. Whilst at RWAV, Kate has led the transformation of the RWAV grants program, enhanced the administration of a number of programs and developed the RWAV allied health portfolio. She has also led the development of the RWAV research program of activities.

Having worked at RWAV since 2020, Kate will continue positively influencing the rural healthcare workforce and access to services.

Social Work (BA Hons), DipSW

With a background in social work and a proven record in recruitment, project management, and business development, Jo brings strategic leadership and a wealth of experience in driving positive outcomes within the health, human services, and State Government sectors.

Jo specialises in managing health professional recruitment and outreach programs, including the More Doctors for Rural Australia and 3GA programs. Her focus is on implementing innovative workforce strategies and clinical governance to bolster RWAV’s mission of enhancing healthcare accessibility in rural and regional Victoria.

Having previously excelled at RWAV, Jo spearheaded successful internal change initiatives while fostering strong relationships with external stakeholders. Her efforts consistently align with RWAV’s strategic direction, ensuring a cohesive approach to driving impactful change.

Beyond her professional expertise, Jo’s passion lies in uniting communities and championing positive transformations in rural healthcare in Victoria.

Martin is a governance professional and lawyer with experience in private practice and in-house legal roles. He has been a company secretary for public and private sector organisations across a range of industries including VicTrack, Regis Healthcare Limited and Dairy Australia Limited. He holds Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce degrees from the University of Melbourne, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance from the Governance Institute of Australia (GIA) and is a fellow of the GIA.

With a rich background of consulting and in-house people and culture roles with the corporate, government and community sectors, Andrea is responsible for leading the implementation of RWAV’s People and Culture strategy, policies, processes, functions and team.

Andrea has significant experience in leading teams across culture, capability, diversity, equity, leadership, organisational development and learning programs as well as core human resources partnering.

With a strong focus on building and maintaining psychologically safe organisations, Andrea’s team is dedicated to ensuring that RWAV is a place where people can work well and be well at work.


Rosemary has had a varied career as an academic teaching economics, public policy and industrial relations, and as a consultant, advocate, health union official and as a director.

She brings strong governance and strategic skills to the Board, as well as knowledge and depth of experience in health policy, economics and investment.

Rosemary was a Director of Aware Super for nine years, and Chair of the Investment Committee for three years. She was also a member of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee, the Governance Committee and the REM and HR Committee. Rosemary is currently a member of the Investment Committee of Cbus.

She was the Secretary of the Victorian Psychologists Association Inc for 20 years and knows first-hand the difficulties in attracting and retaining health professionals in rural and regional Victoria.

Dr Louise Manning is a rural GP Obstetrics trainee practising in Central Victoria where she delivers general practice, obstetric and sexual health services. Growing up in a small town she has lived experience of the difficulties accessing healthcare in rural and regional areas, and is dedicated to advocating for equitable health outcomes regardless of geography.

Louise is also a Board Director of the Rural Doctors’ Association of Victoria.

BAppSci GradDipBus MBus GAICD FIML

John Biviano is an experienced senior executive who has held many senior roles in government (Health Dept) and also in professional associations related to healthcare. Until recently, John was the CEO of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, where he oversaw the digitisation of a range of Member offerings, including aspects of training. 

BA (Politics/Philosophy) BEc GDipBus MBA GAICD FGIA

Roger is an accomplished CEO, Non-Executive Director and Chair with experience in the health, human services, law enforcement, education, transport, and environmental industries – across private, public sector and not-for-profit organisations

.He brings strong governance experience, commercial acumen, risk management and strategy skills combined with a passion for innovation and business development having also been Chair of numerous Finance, Audit, Risk, Investment and Community Advisory Committees.


Assoc Prof Phelps has practiced as a Gastroenterologist and Acute Physician in regional Victoria for more than 20 years.

He trained in safety and quality at Dr Brent James’ Institute at Intermountain Healthcare in the US and has held management and leadership roles in Victoria and Tasmania. More recently he completed a two-year project as Director of Clinical Governance for Central Adelaide Local Health Network.

Grant currently works as an independent consultant providing advice to hospitals and organisations on clinical leadership and safety and quality

LLB BSc MMgt (Strategic Foresight) GAICD

As a lawyer and business consultant Jane has worked with company boards and senior management across a range of areas including IP commercialisation, internet-based businesses, healthcare products/services, privacy and data/IT security. Jane is currently general counsel for .id Consulting – population demographers, economists and forecasters.

Jane served as a director of BreastScreen Victoria for 10 years, is a current director of Ballarat Health Services and chairs RWAV’s Governance Committee.

BMed MMedSci FRACGP FARGP FACRRM DipPractDerm DipMedHyp DipFP DipBusAdmin GAICD

Assoc Prof Rawlin is an experienced General Practitioner and medical educator. He is currently in clinical general practice in suburban Melbourne and previously practiced in rural Victoria for 10 years.

Assoc Prof Rawlin is Chair of the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaborative and a past Chair of the Mental Health Professionals Association and is a board member of the Mental Health Professionals Network. He is also the Medical Director of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Victoria.
He is a member of the RACGP Victoria Council.

Albert Giorgini is the Senior Advisor to CEO at RWAV.

As an experienced finance executive, with an extensive career in public transport and in the automotive and industrial gas sectors, Albert has honed his skills in driving financial performance improvements with a commercial and business transformation focus.

Through his strategic financial skills, Albert has demonstrated an exceptional capacity to lead and develop large teams in complex and changing environments to achieve the financial and regulatory requirements of the business. His extensive experience has given him a deep understanding of the industry and its challenges, equipping him with the expertise to drive impactful change.

Albert has highly developed communication and stakeholder management skills to support his strong planning, analytical and financial performance improvement acumen, always striving to create innovative solutions that drive growth and success.


Lauren commenced in the role of Manager People and Culture in August 2018 and is responsible for leading the implementation of RWAV’s People and Culture strategy, policies, processes, functions and team.

Lauren’s team is committed to implementing activities and initiatives to support the achievement of RWAV’s strategies and strengthen RWAV’s position as an ‘Employer of Choice’.

Lauren is an experienced Manager and HR professional, with a career spanning the professional services, automotive, defence, and not-for-profit sectors.

BHlthSci(Hons) MPH PostGradDipMgt GAICD AFCHSM

Lauren Cordwell commenced in the role of Chief Executive Officer in August 2023. She took on the role of Acting CEO in April 2023 and previously served as the General Manager since February 2020.
Lauren has leadership responsibilities for strategy, communications, data, stakeholder engagement and program delivery.

Lauren’s team is committed to supporting communities in rural and regional Victoria to have timely access to affordable and safe health care.

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