"I was never great at school and I didn’t enjoy it. I just found it really hard. I was sick in year 12, so I didn’t graduate and afterwards I felt really lost. All of my friends seemed to know what they wanted to do and were going off to uni. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I was pretty sure university wasn’t for me.
I did a few different jobs. I went overseas and travelled and worked as a bar maid. I worked as a cleaner and then a Teachers' Aid for kids with special needs and learning difficulties.
Eventually I realised that getting year 12 was important for me. So at 20 years old I enrolled at Elizabeth College and it was great. It felt like a real achievement and gave me the confidence to consider more study. I did a TAFE course in Business Administration and worked in that for a few years. But I didn’t feel fulfilled. I really didn’t like working in a 9-5 role and I had always wanted to do something where I was helping people.
After TAFE I felt more confident to consider university, but I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I enrolled in a few subjects that I thought looked interesting. But none of it really grabbed my interest and I struggled.
Then my best friend told me about the two-year nursing degree and it appealed straight away. I had always dreamed of working in developing countries where I could help people. I wanted to continue to travel and I didn’t want to do 9-5 or work in a job that was always the same. Nursing ticked all the boxes!
After spending so much time doing courses trying to work out what I wanted to do, I just wanted to get on with it. I felt like I was behind my friends, so getting the degree done in two years was really appealing.
I’m not going to lie, it was hard work. I was scared and nervous at the beginning, but there were sessions at the library to show you have to research things and always someone to ask for help. They were really approachable.
There were subjects that were really tough, but the lecturers were really supportive and put on extra tutorials when we needed it. There was one subject that I didn’t pass, but I went back the next year and completed it. I think the difference was that I knew this was what I wanted to do, so I was happy to work hard for it.
Nursing is a serious job. You have people’s lives in your hands. I didn’t comprehend how much I would need to know or the seriousness of it until I started. But I’m so glad I did it. UTAS really teaches you the complexity of being a nurse. The patient interaction, time management and integrating the theory into work on the wards.
I did five placements. I worked in a rural setting on Flinders Island, I did ‘Hospital in the Home’ in Burnie, Mental Health at New Norfolk, Rehabilitation, and Surgical Specialty and Burns at the Royal Hobart Hospital.
I was really concerned about being able to go out there and be a good nurse. I realise now that’s what actually makes you a good one! I felt a bit stressed in my graduate year and found that having a supportive ward was key. You never feel like you know everything so you have to feel comfortable to ask lots of questions.
I’ve been a nurse for two years now and I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile with my life. I think you need to feel fulfilled and feel like you’re making a difference in the world or being of service somehow to your community or others – even in a small way.
I get to help people when they are in really hard situations and try and make their experience better. I’m thinking about specialising now in midwifery or paediatrics. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but with nursing there are lots of avenues.
I know I’ll never be stagnant. You can always change the area that you work in. I don’t have to work 9-5 or five day week. I can choose to work less days and get penalty rates. I’ve got the freedom that I always wanted. And I can choose where I want to go.
I can now see my dream of helping people in developing countries becoming a reality. I’m off to Africa in September to ride a horse through the Masai Mara in Kenya and explore some volunteering options. I think in the future I’d like to open a wellness centre in Tasmania that focuses on healthy mind and body.
My message to anyone out there who thinks they can’t go after a career they want, is that life is too short."