Taylah Pettersen felt like she was just a number when she studied at a big university in Sydney. But when she switched to a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Tasmania’s Rozelle campus, she found her groove – and a vocation she loves.
Taylah grew up in a family full of nurses and – as often seems to be the case for those growing up with a “family business” – that was enough to put her off following in their footsteps.
“My family actually discouraged me from doing it,” she laughed. “Mum is a registered nurse (RN) and she had a good experience but, down the track, she said don’t do it, it’s such hard work!
“So nursing was never really on my agenda but I did want to work in healthcare in some way, something patient-facing.”
So when Northern Sydney-based Taylah went to university, she enrolled in a Bachelor of Medical Science at a large university. But she quickly realised it was not the career path she wanted, and life at a big uni was also not what she expected.
“In my head it was a pre-med kind of course but in reality it was more based around research, laboratory work and so on, which wasn’t where I hoped to go.
“And there were 1200 people doing my degree at that uni, 400 of us in each lecture, and I just felt like a number. That big campus vibe was fun for maybe one semester, then it just felt impersonal.”
After completing two years of her three-year degree, Taylah suspended her studies and found a job working in a laboratory, later moving into pathology where she worked as a phlebotomist, collecting blood samples.
“While pathology is a job that makes a difference, I wasn’t happy looking at the same four walls seven days a week, or being in some lab or basement.
“It was also while I was working in pathology that I got to know the nurses really well, and they really loved their jobs, so it got me thinking.
“I’ve always loved people, I come from a whole family of healthcare workers, nurses. That’s where the difference is made, that’s where I wanted to be after all.”
Having already spent two years studying a degree she didn’t enjoy, Taylah was looking for a way to get through a nursing degree more quickly, which was when she discovered the University of Tasmania.
“During my research, UTAS was the first place that popped up. I could do my Bachelor of Nursing as an accelerated degree in just two years, which suited me perfectly.
“It’s hectic, but I’m a little older, I can organise my workload effectively. And Rozelle is very central, just outside of Sydney, it only takes me 45mins to get there, so not long at all, and there’s free parking everywhere.”
Taylah said the Rozelle campus turned out to be the perfect place to study, with smaller classes, and the tighter-knit student community made it much easier to make friends than at a bigger uni.
“You’re not competing for space when you’re doing practical work, and I always feel I can just approach the lecturer when I have any questions, they’re easy to find and talk to.”
Halfway through her degree, she hopes to work in emergency, ICU or trauma nursing but is enjoying a variety of placements while she makes up her mind.
“UTAS has such a good reputation in Sydney. When you start a placement somewhere, the staff always say ‘awesome, you’re from UTAS, we won’t have to worry about you too much!’
“The university of Tasmania has a reputation for producing good RNs who come out with good skills and knowledge, basically ready to go.
“The teaching staff are extraordinary, too. They’re nurses who are actively working outside of the uni in healthcare, they love nursing and genuinely care about our training.”
Nurses are always in demand and the workforce is always growing. And if you study a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Tasmania, you will enjoy a maximum 1:12 staff/student ratio during all practical and simulation learning experiences.