When a lady rushed up to hug Sirinart Tasanalee (Cat) in a restaurant, Cat knew it was another sign she had chosen the right career.

“A lady came over to say thank you with a big hug. She said I looked after her 18-year-old son after craniotomy surgery. He is now able to walk and go on with his life,” Cat said.

That is what you can experience along the way if you study nursing.

As a Registered Nurse working at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Sydney, New South Wales, changing people’s lives is part of Cat’s job.

Sirinart immigrated to Australia from Thailand and gained her Bachelor of Nursing degree through the University of Tasmania, completing her graduate program course at Sydney’s Darlinghurst campus.

“When I came to Australia I had to start from zero because my previous study was not recognised. My first degree was in bioscience with a major in food technology. I love science, but I didn’t want to be in a lab,” she said.

Before she came to the University, Cat was working as an assistant at an aged care facility. Her manager, partner and friends all encouraged her to enrol in a Bachelor of Nursing degree. When she was accepted into the University of Tasmania her excitement was soon replaced by initial distress. With limited English, she worried how she would understand the lectures, write assignments or speak in front of other students.

“I went to pick up a book from the home of another student and I remember being in tears about how I would cope.

The student reassured me, explaining that there was plenty of support available within the University, and she proved to be right.

According to Cat, the University excels at providing student support and preparing mature-aged students for return to study. She said she was able to improve her writing, referencing, time-management and study planning skills through support services available at the University.

“When you encounter a concept that is hard to understand, listen to the lecture again and again. And always ask, email your tutor, they are more than happy to answer you,” Cat said.

The student adviser team also provides great assistance. Without that support I would not have got through.

Cat says the University campus was close to where she lived and worked, and a small campus allowed for better access to, and stronger relationships with, her tutors.

The practical component of the degree was a highlight. Cat discovered, while on a four-week placement at Prince of Wales Randwick, that she was drawn to a career in cardiac nursing.

“Placement is a time to learn as much as you can,” she said.

“There are several placements over the course of the degree and UTAS has a very good relationship with the St Vincent Health Network, so that can potentially provide you with improved job opportunities after graduation.

Nursing is not easy, but it is rewarding. It allows me to contribute to Australian society. I have built a new life here and I have been provided many opportunities.

Find out more about studying Nursing at the University of Tasmania here.