I’m from an Australian background but was born in Singapore as my father worked in the Australian Army and was stationed there for two years. When I was a child, I attended three different primary schools in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales. My family then settled in Sydney which is where I went to high school. After finishing high school, I moved to Townsville to study nursing at James Cook University but later found myself swapping to a science degree because I really enjoyed the anatomy and physiology.
I moved back to Sydney after I got married and continued my studies via distance education at Charles Sturt University. I was also working part-time as an AIN in a nurse home, a job I’d been doing part-time or full-time since I was 17 years old! Then in 1993, I had my first child, and my second came along a year later.
After working a number of different jobs in the health sector, I was accepted into the Ambulance Service of NSW as a Trainee Ambulance Officer. It was the job of a lifetime, one which I felt like I had been born to do, and I really felt like I had found my calling in life. I again transferred my degree and finally finished with a Diploma of Health Science (Pre-Hospital Care), and a Diploma of Paramedical Science (Pre-Hospital Care).
For a few years, I worked as an Ambulance Officer until I injured my back lifting a patient and was assigned to off-road work, mostly as a Technical Educator in the Ambulance Education Centre. Two years later I was discharged for being permanently unfit for work, which was absolutely devastating! I initially found work as a Workplace Medic and First Aid Trainer, and later as a Clinical Consultant in a Sleep Apnea Centre, but I felt that there was something more for me to do with my life…like I had a calling that wasn’t being fulfilled.
I wanted to study nursing because it was a career I had been interested in back in my teenage years. I had started nursing all the way back in 1990 but had never finished the degree. Going back to study at UTS was the continuation of a career I decided to pursue many years ago, although via many long life-altering detours.
My first impression of UTS was that it was a technologically-advanced university, with stylish modern nursing facilities and a vibrant campus. When I enquired about study here, I was provided with all the right information I needed. I was impressed from the outset with the professionalism of all staff I encountered and was also happy that UTS offered part-time study in the Bachelor of Nursing, as I wasn’t sure about committing to a full-time load.
I’ve definitely carried skills and knowledge from previous roles that have assisted my nursing career. I’ve been working in the health industry since I was 17 and still in high school - almost 30 years now! I have become very comfortable talking to patients over the years. I try to treat patients the way I would treat family if they were ill or in need of help. It definitely takes time getting used to invading someone’s personal space, particularly when they’re vulnerable and in pain.
I do believe that I have changed and developed during my studies at UTS. I think I am less judgemental and much more understanding of why people are the way they are. Many of the things I have learnt in this course I sincerely wish I knew earlier in my life. But we can’t change the past; we can only learn from it. The knowledge and skills I have learnt while studying nursing at UTS I have been able to apply to my personal life, on clinical placement, and also in my current workplace.
My plan for the future is to finish my degree, get a job as a nurse, built confidence and competence…the usual stuff. I would like to think I will continue study in a specialised field, but I'm not sure yet. I’m determined to make the most out of my nursing career, whatever direction it will take me.
Some advice I would give to future mature-aged students would be to plan out your study time as much as you can and stick to it. Find reputable YouTube videos to watch in your study time to reinforce your learning and use lots of images with your notes. Find other mature-aged students in your classes and make the effort to connect with them…sometimes a kindred spirit can help keep you on track when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
And remember to give yourself a break. You’re neither Superman nor Wonder Woman, so don’t think you have to be everything to everyone all at the same time! At the beginning of the semester, you will feel like there’s a great big mountain of work ahead of you, but shovel buy shovel you will move the mountain and before you know it, classes are over and another semester is done.