Role model for strong leadership

Julie Rich
18 June 1964 – 23 April 2008

Julie Rich’s life was an incredible gift to those who knew her, and it is with immense sadness that we advise Julie died peacefully on 23 April 2008, following a long illness.

She was the life of a party, with an infectious laugh and an easy smile. Her fun, loving nature and energy surrounded her with friends and family. She was also an inspirational nursing leader with a passion for both learning and educating.

Throughout her career Julie sought to develop a culture that empowered staff through authority, responsibility and accountability.

She strived to be an effective role model, flawlessly applying her conviction that those around her ‘must not only hear what they are expected to do, but also see’.

Julie’s life was marked by many achievements, both professional and private. She graduated from Sydney University in 1986 with a Diploma of Applied Science (Nursing) and went on to achieve a Bachelor of Nursing from the University of Sydney. In 1989 she completed her Certificate of Midwifery at the Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington. She graduated from the University of New England in 1996 with a Masters of Health Management. Even during her illness, Julie was enrolled at Macquarie University, working towards a Bachelor of Laws. Julie distinguished herself academically and was honoured with an invitation to the Golden Key Membership.

Her passion for nursing and her ability to influence change is clearly demonstrated by her achievements. There seemed to be no limit to the scope of her abilities. Where she saw challenges, a need for change, or review, Julie defied the difficulties.

Julie gained varied experience in a number of senior management positions. She held the positions of Deputy Director of Nursing and Acting Director of Nursing at two-aged care facilities and Nursing Unit Manager. She was also Acting Assistant Director of Nursing (after hours) at the Royal Hospital for Women.

Julie moved to Westmead in 1995 as the Nurse Manager of Women’s Health, during which time she co-authored a chapter ‘Women and Cancer’ in the Women’s Health: a Primary Health Care Approach by C Rogers-Clark and A Smith.

Julie was soon promoted to Senior Nurse Manager – Management Support. Her exceptional management ability was recognised in her appointment to a number of senior positions until she was appointed as the Director of Nursing & Midwifery Services at Blacktown/Mt Druitt Health in 2002. Julie’s charisma and eloquence enabled her to be a great motivator and morale-builder, driving a cultural change in patient care delivery at Blacktown/Mt Druitt. She was always a ‘people-person’ who earned the respect and love of her colleagues.

During the Area restructure, Julie developed services further as the acting Network Director for Access and Patient Logistics and later as the acting Area Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services.

Julie always displayed a real passion for the role of nurses and midwives in providing care for patients. She will always be remembered for her ability to use animal analogies – eg. the story of the bumble-bee who rules the beehive without needing a sting. Julie showed us that Mother Nature as leader does not need a sting or a weapon to exercise power, but patience and wisdom – an approach clearly role-modelled by her.

Julie was the embodiment of attributes such as caring, kindness, compassion and generosity in both her personal and professional life.

Julie was trustworthy in all her endeavours, and communicated a vision for health and nursing that earned the respect and love of her colleagues.

On a personal level, Julie achieved much in her life too, finding her ‘soul mate’, to share not only a birthday, but also the past two decades of her life in joy. Becoming a parent was a lifelong dream and it became Julie’s most fulfilling role, to be mother to Genevieve and Cameron.

Over the past two years Julie put in a determined battle against her illness, always amazing the doctors. Particularly over this time, Julie tried to live life without regret and was very focused on building memories that could last a lifetime for all.

Julie’s life is a gift to all and leaves a strong legacy for Australian nursing.

Her contribution to the profession of nursing and to each of our lives will long be remembered.

By Ann Gilholme, DON,
Coledale District Hospital SESIAHS.