From Cabin to ED

When COVID-19 lockdown grounded Victoria Congalton's aircrew career, she used it as an opportunity to map out a new career in nursing.

And now she’s in the thick of it, nursing in the Emergency Department (ED) at Hawke’s Bay Hospital. She is using the people skills learned in her previous career to her advantage in her new profession.

“I love it, I should’ve trained years ago,” she says.

Victoria started her working career as a flight attendant before deciding to go to university to study Psychology. She then spent 10 years working as a Human Resources Consultant overseas.

She came home to New Zealand in 2018 and returned to working as a flight attendant.

“I was flying for about 10 months and had plans to go into training or HR when the country went into lockdown and flights were grounded.”

She then lost her job in a company-wide restructure. Three weeks later she was offered her job back, but it was too late.

“I told them no thanks, I’ve enrolled in nursing and I’m not coming back. I was in my mid-thirties and I couldn’t be mucking around with a job that had no stability at that time. My mum was a nurse and it always seemed like a very fulfilling career.”

Victoria acknowledges it was a bold move.

“It was daunting. There’s an expectation that when you’re older you should know what you want to do but that’s not always the case. I wanted a job that challenged me and I wanted to help people. As an air hostess I used to wrap people up in blankets, and now I wrap them up and treat them.”

Victoria says she is unfazed by the busyness of ED and says the team was a great support in her first few months on the job.

“I love the critical nature of the work and that you’ve got the chance to make a difference in what can be one of the worst times of someone’s life.”

While her focus is now on delivering the best care she can in ED, she has one eye on the future and perhaps that lay back in the skies, this time as a flight nurse.

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