Nurse Practitioner - Movement Disorders Neurology Department, Westmead Hospital
Nurse Practitioner - Deep Brain Stimulation, Suite 3, Westmead Private Hospital
I wanted to pursue nursing as I was fascinated by how our bodies worked. I also enjoyed caring for people and finding ways I could make them feel better. I guess, because my mum is also a nurse, she had told us many stories about her patients, which I was intrigued to learn more about. I got my first taste of nursing in high school through year 10 work experience and I haven’t looked back since. When I completed my HSC, I had no doubt nursing was for me and the UTS nursing degree had an excellent reputation, so that’s where I have completed all of my studies.
I’m currently working in a new full-time position as a Movement Disorders Nurse Practitioner in the Movement Disorders Unit in the Neurology department at Westmead Hospital. Three years ago, I initially started at Westmead in a new position as a deep brain stimulation nurse practitioner and my role has expanded since. I also provide a collaborative nurse practitioner clinic one day a month.
Before I was a postgraduate nurse I was committed to gaining as much clinical experience as I could, to consolidate my degree. I held assistant in nursing positions at Lady Davidson Private Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital.
After completing the Diploma of Nursing, my first registered nursing role included the twelve month graduate program at Royal North Shore Hospital. During my neurosurgical clinical rotation, I felt drawn to the neurosciences and went on to convert my diploma to the new nursing degree, whilst completing the neuroscience nursing certificate. These courses facilitated me gaining Clinical Nurse Specialist status and a nurse educator secondment.
After ten years, I stepped out of the hospital setting and broadened my community experience at Cerebral Palsy Alliance. This clinical resource and education role taught me so much more than I ever anticipated. It gave me a real insight into the lives of people with disabilities.
Three years later, I commenced at Westmead Private Hospital in a new position as the clinical nurse consultant (CNC) for neuroscience. During my fifteen years in the private sector, I was given many opportunities to expand my knowledge and skills whilst I completed the nurse practitioner master's course. As the CNC position was part-time, I was also able to contribute to research on hydrocephalus, present at international conferences and develop a Brain Tumour support group.
I’m passionate about nursing – particularly neuroscience nursing. I am committed to improving how we care for our patients, from enhancing communication, education, carers support and integrating evidence based practice. In the past ten years, one of my greatest achievements has been co-founding The Neuro-Oncology Information Network- NOgIN. Together with Diane Lear, the CNC-Neuroscience from Westmead Hospital, we developed this nurse co-ordinated support group, reducing the physical and emotional impact associated with the diagnosis and ongoing treatment of a brain tumour.
I'm now embracing opportunities within the Movement Disorder realm and am excited to be the vice chair of the new Movement Disorder Chapter within the Australasian Neuroscience Nurses’ Association.
I decided to study my postgraduate master’s degree at UTS because they continue to have an excellent reputation for their nursing courses. I found the flexibility of the degree, online subjects and study blocks worked well with my busy schedule.
The most rewarding aspect of the degree would have to be becoming an endorsed nurse practitioner, soon after graduating. This course really prepared me for the submission process. It doesn’t just end when you finish your master’s degree. You have an ongoing connection with the university, which I feel is really beneficial. I was able to join the UTS Nurse Practitioner Course Committee and tutor international students studying postgraduate nursing – that was a great experience. The people you meet in the course and the opportunities that UTS provides is also very rewarding.
This course has most definitely prepared me for the career I’ve had. It’s a well-rounded course, where I could specify my specialty area and scope of practice. There was a lot of flexibility in my assessments and I was able to really focus on the neurosciences.
Advice I would share with future students who want to become a nurse practitioner would be to really know the area of specialisation that you are passionate about and know that the timing is right for you to commit to the course work. Like any degree, there is no guarantee you will secure a job as a Nurse Practitioner straight away, but I firmly believe if it feels right, and you have a thirst for knowledge and expanding your skills, then go for it.
As a nurse consultant or registered nurse, I always felt that I had so much more to offer to patients, families and the health system but my role was so restricted. As a nurse practitioner, you’ve got much more leeway to really improve what you do for your patients. Within nursing and health, there are many opportunities. If you’re willing to put the effort in you will reap the rewards.
For anyone who is considering becoming a nurse, it’s a really rewarding career, you’ll never regret it. The doors that will open for you, not only to work across Australia but internationally, you can't imagine. I highly recommend nursing, you will never know what it will lead to. It’s a fantastic background to many diverse careers.