Supporting women with lipoedema

Sally Baker has returned to nursing study so that she can help women suffering from lipoedema

After a 20-year break from nursing, Sally Baker was driven to return to the profession so that she could help women suffering from lipoedema.

Lipoedema is a condition that mainly affects women and is characterised by painful swelling in the legs, thighs, buttocks, and sometimes the arms. “It affects almost 11% of women, yet is frequently misdiagnosed, and almost unknown among health professionals,” she explains.

For Sally, it’s been a long journey back to nursing. She graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing from La Trobe in 1991 and went on to hold senior roles as an Associate Nurse Unit Manager, Nurse Unit Manager and Clinical Educator.

Family commitments meant she had to step away from nursing. Years later, Sally searched for a way to re-enter the profession.

“There is no pathway for nurses like me – who have been unregistered for so long – to return without completing another Bachelor of Nursing,” she says.

“I knew I needed to return to nursing to fulfil my dream of helping women with lipoedema. Thankfully I was able to enter La Trobe’s graduate entry pathway, which meant I could re-qualify in just two years.”

Sally has enjoyed the opportunity to fine tune her skills through clinical placement.

“My clinical placement at The Royal Women's Hospital was a particular highlight. I worked with a team of incredible nurses in the women's health clinics. The nurse-led clinics were inspiring, demonstrating innovation and commitment to improving women's health.”

Sally is now on her way to fulfilling her long-held goal of working with women who have lipoedema.

“Next year, I will be training as a lymphoedema practitioner and will work as a support nurse for one of the world's most experienced lipoedema plastic and reconstructive surgeons.”

“I will be part of a team at the forefront of lipoedema research worldwide, and I am hoping to contribute my own research from a nursing perspective. It is an extremely exciting opportunity, one that will improve outcomes for women living with the pain and stigma of this disease.”

“Being able to help a person and their family through very challenging experiences makes nursing an extremely rewarding career.”