Lorretta Thomson was a registered nurse in oncology and cardiology before making the move to pathology where she has worked as a collector, trainer and manager.
Let’s get to know her a bit better.
How long have you been with NSWHP
Coming up to 6 years now.
How did you end up here? How did you get into the field?
I worked as a Registered Nurse in oncology and cardiology for many years before I made the switch to work in pathology for the private sector.
I’ve had many roles in pathology as a collector, a trainer and a manager.
I was browsing online one day and came across an advert for a collection training role for NSW Health Pathology in the Hunter region.
The idea of a new challenge was appealing, but I loved my job and leaving my long-term employer wasn’t something I had ever envisaged.
I got brave, applied, and found I was the preferred applicant. I approached my manager and asked for a leave of absence so I could pluck up the courage to explore this new opportunity.
Very graciously, they gave me a six-month window where I could return if I wasn’t happy in my new role.
But, when I started with NSW Health Pathology, I knew I’d found my new home.
Since then, I’ve held several roles at NSW Health Pathology. The most challenging but hugely satisfying role was as the Nurse Unit Manager (NUM) at the COVID-19 drive-through testing clinic at the University of Newcastle. After that, I was NUM 2IC for collections in the Hunter, and now, this new position as Statewide Collections Manager.
Do you have an analogy to help us understand your work?
I see myself as one of those support vehicles for a long-haul cycling team. I’m here to help, hopefully in practical ways. I’m here to keep an eye on the big picture and give ongoing support as we progress in our journey as a truly connected statewide service.
What are your plans for the role and what are you working on now?
I’ll be doing my part to continue the work to standardise practises within the collection space. Currently, I’m learning about the different needs in our collection areas across our vast state. Together, our collection managers are sharing valuable learnings and insights as we become a more integrated team.
Our focus is on training our collectors, recognising our front-line staff, highlighting our paediatric expertise, and improving our service for all our diverse patients and communities.
What motivates you? What are you passionate about?
People are my motivation and my passion. Working in a team dynamic energises me. Connecting and feeling a sense of belonging makes it easy to come to work each day. I’m committed to making sure our patients receive expert care and the best possible experience in a welcoming and safe environment. I’ve always found great satisfaction in seeing patients leave and knowing that their day is a little lighter because of their time spent with us – even if the procedure itself is less than fun.
What would you be doing if you hadn’t started your career in pathology?
I think I’d be working as an oncology nurse. I expect I would’ve studied to become a specialist breast care or prostatic cancer nurse and be part of a team that supports cancer patients.
What makes you get up in the morning?
Getting up in the morning is always easy for me. It’s the best part of the day. I have a mantra that’s gotten me through some pretty tough days and brought extra joy to the good days: ‘Have something to look forward to. Find something to laugh about, and do something for someone else.’ It works for me.
What’s your favourite pastime?
I enjoy music, long walks and spending time with family and friends.
What’s the best advice you were ever given?
Often, rather than reacting with a straight-up ‘no’ it’s better to pause, take a breath and say ‘Let me think about that’….and then actually go away and think it through with an open mind!
What’s your favourite season?
My favourite time of the year is autumn with lots of sunshine, blue skies, pretty colours and warm days.
What’s your secret talent? Can you tell us a fun fact about you?
No real secrets here. I’m an open book! I do ok on the piano.
Growing up, we moved from state to state every 2 or 3 years. I went to 3 primary schools and 3 high schools and was forever the ‘new kid’. This led to a consistent theme in my school reports, ‘Lorretta would do better if she focussed more on her classes and less on socialising’. On the upside, I made many long-lasting connections. On the downside, maths is definitely not my strength!