When Kristie-Anne Ryder woke up from anaesthesia, a nurse started braiding her hair.
“It was such a small gesture,” Kristie-Anne reflects. “But in that moment it really meant a lot to me. I just thought to myself, ‘I want to be just like this nurse.’”
At that stage, the former Olympian was in the early stages of her Nursing degree at UniSC. But it was a moment that has helped guide her approach to the profession ever since.
“What I’ve really loved about placements is connecting with patients and their families – it is such a privilege be a part of their story,” Kristie-Anne says.
“I never want to underestimate how valuable we are – not just as medical professionals but as carers.”
Despite clearly have an affinity for the job, Kristie-Anne’s career path was not always so clear.
Leaving high school in Year 11, she went on to represent Australia in the Women’s half-lightweight Judo at the 2008 Beijing Olympics – an incredible feat for anyone, let alone a teenager.
After the Olympics, life literally intervened – she became a mother, which inspired an interest in midwifery.
By mid-2020, Kristie-Anne was ready to enrol in a Midwifery degree. But this time it was fate that intervened – because there’s no mid-year intake for Midwifery Kristie-Anne had to enrol in Nursing.
It’s a decision that’s she’s never questioned.
“I've had so much exposure to the different careers that are available in nursing,” Kristie-Anne says. “I'm doing a job that I’m really passionate about – I just love it.”
UniSC Nursing Associate Professor Marc Broadbent says nursing is a broad field that required a toolbox of different skillsets.
“Our placements are designed to give Nursing students a taste of the different areas available to specialise in.
“For example, this could be in paediatrics, neo-natal, aged-care, mental health or acute care – it’s important our students understand the options available to them.”
Despite pursuing a passion, Kristie-Anne has still faced her own hurdles.
“I think everybody has their own priorities to juggle,” Kristie-Anne says.
“Mine happens to be two little kids, you know – especially doing nursing placements, where you're doing shift work – you really have to advocate for yourself and find something that works for your family.
“It is hard. But there's always a way. If you want something badly enough, you'll make it work.”
For Kristie-Anne, that’s meant surrounding herself with a support network family members and classmates who can help, offer advice or just listen.
It’s what has helped her get through – to the point where’s she’s just about to graduate this month.
“I think what has really brough it home for me was during my final placement,” Kristie-Anne says.
“There was a young patient who was waiting for their mum to come in and they were quite upset, and they said to me, ‘I’m really sorry but would you mind doing my hair for me?’
“And we sat there sat there and I did her hair for her and we just chatted, waiting for her mum to get there.
“That to me was a full-circle moment – I finally got to be the nurse I wanted to be – and that was pretty cool.”
Bachelor of Nursing Science
Pursue your passion for health care and helping people while developing your scientific knowledge of anatomy and physiology, drug therapy, comprehensive health assessment and research. Apply to become a registered nurse following graduation.
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