Nursing, travel and babies

By Olivia Day – current Bachelor of Nursing student

About me

I was born in West Virginia, USA to a nurse (my mother) and a neurosurgeon (my father).

Dad was offered a job in Wollongong, Australia, when I was around four years old, so my family made the decision to leave our little town in the US; it was just after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

I was raised in Wollongong and attended the same school from Kindergarten to Year
12.  Thanks to my parents, I’ve been immersed in the medical world for my whole life, leading me to where I am today.

Why nursing?

I’ve always been fascinated with babies and birth – something of a departure from my Dad’s speciality and my Mum’s interest in cardiac scrub nursing.

In Year 11, I landed in a maternity placement for work experience. I couldn’t believe how much I loved it! I loved being with the patients and their little ones on a first-name basis.

Ever since, I’ve been working towards achieving this goal of becoming a nurse/midwife, and perhaps in the future a medical doctor.

Why UTS?

Because it offers the opportunity to combine the Bachelor of Nursing with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies.

Even though Wollongong’s local university is much closer to home, once I’d learnt that I’d been accepted to my first choice of degree, I was set on studying at UTS.

I thought that commuting from Wollongong would be incredibly hard, but actually, being able to compact my timetable into 2-3 days a week and catching the train has been lovely – everyday I have three hours to sleep, study or relax.

I’ve always loved travelling and aim to travel once I’ve gained more experience in nursing and midwifery.

So when I found out that this degree gave me the chance to live in another country for a year to learn the language, culture and attend another university, I jumped at it. I couldn’t believe that nursing could be combined with International Studies – it was the perfect degree for me.

The placements

The most rewarding aspect of the course is being able to apply what we learn in the labs,
tutorials and lectures on real patients, in real wards, in real hospitals every semester.

I have already done two clinical placements – one in Orthopaedics at Royal Prince Alfred and more recently in Oncology and Neuromedicine at Sutherland Hospital.

In the next four years, I’ll get the opportunity to do many more placements and possibly attain an ‘Assistant in Nursing’ job.

I’ve had many amazing interactions with patients who trust us wholeheartedly, despite the fact that we are students. So many are impressed by what we can already do (in first year) that they believe we are already in final year and are about to start working full time!

Seeing a patient smile when they see your face in spite of the pain of their situation is an amazing feeling. Being that person to bring their day to a higher point is so much more rewarding than anything else I have ever experienced.

The support

One subject I particularly enjoyed was Assessments and Therapeutics 2 (a practical subject) with tutor Elizabeth Stoddart.

She was brilliant because she shared her stories from a lifetime of experience – from her
time as a student nurse to being a Nurse Unit Manager (NUM).

In spite of her packed schedule, she was always excited to teach every class and came prepared to let us know what she thought was the most important content of every week.

We would also need to come prepared, because she wasn’t afraid to put us on the spot!
I hope I have the pleasure of being taught by her in my remaining few years.

The future

I want more than anything to work with mothers and babies.

This dream can take me anywhere in the world to help any new mother and her little baby, and that’s what keeps me motivated.

After finishing this first degree, I’ll do my new graduate nursing year and then hopefully complete the Graduate Diploma in Midwifery in the following year.

My advice

Be prepared to study hard; talk to lots of strangers and staff on placement; make friends with people who share your strange medical interests; believe in your abilities and ask for help when you need it.

If you ever feel like you’re falling behind or you’re just not getting it, there are hundreds of
students in the course who probably feel the same way.

Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do. My parents wanted me to do medicine, but now I love that I’m doing nursing.

Follow your passion and see where it takes you.

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