About Denise

Denise Petersen is a Clinical Nurse and Resident Care Manager at Cairns Hospital and works in Pediatrics and Oncology.

Denise Petersen

Now at 71 years old I sometimes find it hard to believe that at the age of 22 years I simply stepped into the unknown to progress my career.
Completing my midwifery training at Crown Street, Women’s Hospital in 1970, I decided to go to post-war Vietnam to work in orphanages. The missions in Sydney were calling for nurses all the time.
I completed the forms, had vaccinations and health checks for The Holy Fathers Orphanages and attended an office in Pitt Street for final arrangements.
An official noticed I had filled out Methodist as my religion; he was quite shocked that I had applied to work in a Catholic organisation, and declared, “We don’t employ Methodists.”
I was shocked and not wanted! 
Mad as a cut snake! While stomping down the stairs, too mad to take the lift, I noticed a poster stuck on a door. 
It read, “Nurses wanted in the Territories of Papua New Guinea and New Guinea Islands. Please apply.”
I walked in and asked, “Can Methodist nurses apply?”
A nice man replied, “We don’t mind what religion you are, we just want nurses.” 
“Here is my nursing certificates, passport, up to date vaccination book and health certificate.” 
“You are in, welcome.”
I had never really heard of this country, but as an Australian Overseas Nursing Office nurse, employed by Canberra, I would need to learn fast.



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