Grateful patient finds her calling! | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Grateful patient finds her calling!

Hello, my name is Lauren Plaistow and I have recently completed a Bachelor of Nursing Science at USC Caboolture. I started my degree in 2019 after graduating from Tullawong State High School. My nursing journey started in Grade 11, as I enrolled in TAFE's Certificate lll in Health Services Assistance, one day a week, at the Caboolture Shared Campus. At the end of that year, I was successful in obtaining an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) position at a local aged care facility. Having gained 4 years’ practical experience since the end of Grade 11 has helped shape my nursing practice.

My motivation to study nursing: From a young age I can remember listening to conversations between my aunts and great aunts who would share nursing experiences around the dining room table. This exposure to the healthcare field was consistent throughout my childhood and generated a desire to be involved in the nursing field. In 2019 after finishing my first year of university, I had an eight-night stay as an acute patient at Caboolture Hospital. It is from this experience and the health care that I received which reinforced my motivation with my studies and has made me eager to work with people who are passionate and dedicated to providing positive patient outcomes. Prior to this, I had never been an acute patient in a hospital setting. Taking a positive from a negative situation, it was an educational and enlightening experience. I am thankful that I know so many incredible people that I have taken inspiration from to continue my journey in the healthcare field.

Most enjoyable part of studying at USC Caboolture: Having a smaller sized campus created a great sense of community and allowed a connection between students, lecturers, and tutors. Listening to the lecturer’s experiences and stories from their time nursing left lasting memories and bolstered an awareness that I will use in my nursing practice. In my first semester at USC Caboolture, I was fortunate enough to form a study group; whom after only one semester became my close friends, and support group throughout my three years of fulltime studies. In my study group we all had different strengths that allowed us to help each other with university life. The location of Caboolture campus was also appealing as I only had to travel 20 minutes down the highway from Wamuran. This short travel time made it easier to work on group assignments on campus and for me to drop in for assistance from the Librarians about referencing or finding additional resources.

Securing a graduate position at Toowoomba Base Hospital: Australia wide there are programs that hospitals offer which are referred to as New Graduate positions. I applied for a Queensland New Graduate position in August 2021 and was successful in being offered a position within the Darling Downs region. I was later informed that I had been placed at Toowoomba Base Hospital on an acute medical ward specialising in treating Stroke and Acute Geriatric patients. I am looking forward to starting my Registered Nursing career at this hospital, including the move to the Darling Downs region, which will present opportunities and challenges that I feel confident I can embrace. I am looking forward to being involved within a structured and supportive learning program and delivering nursing in a regional setting.

Advice for new students or people interested in studying nursing: I have found that my experience as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) has helped prepare me for practical clinical placements. Whilst it is not a requirement to have this experience heading into nursing studies it provided a valuable insight into the practical side of nursing and the healthcare field. From this experience I have gained confidence in dealing with patients, work colleagues and an understanding of how important it is to follow and know workplace policies and procedures.

The benefits of USC academic support: I highly recommend attending the academic workshops that USC provide in Orientation week. These workshops assisted my learning transition from high school to university writing. I found the referencing workshops to be of great help, with this workshop giving me the confidence to reference different sources. It would later provide a source of humour for my study group as they referred to me as the ‘Referencing Queen’. Another piece of advice to new and current students is to reference as you go. Do not leave the referencing task to the end as it requires revisiting references and is time consuming. In addition, referencing as you work your way through your assignment prevents the issue of wondering what information is from which source.

Additional help along the way: Being a member of BPW Caboolture, an association of Business and Professional Women helped with my university studies and career prospects as it gave me opportunities to increase my professional skills and confidence. For example, during lockdown in 2020, I attended BPW meetings on Zoom. This interaction on the Zoom platform later helped with an job interview as I had previous experience talking with others online in a professional situation. Also, working as part of a team has taught me the importance of listening to others and sharing the load of tasks and responsibilities.

Future prospects: My future goal for my career is to specialise in a clinical area and work my way up within the management sector of the healthcare field. At this point in time, I do not know which area of nursing I want to specialise in as there are so many to choose from. For the next few years my plan is to gain as much clinical nursing exposure as possible. One option I have considered is to travel to the United Kingdom to experience a different healthcare system. My long-term goal is to study for a master’s degree in Nursing, and although I am unsure what the future will hold for my nursing career, I am looking forward to the journey!

Lauren Plaistow

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