Dr Tamara Power is a Senior Research Fellow and Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Health at the University of Technology Sydney. Tamara is also working part-time at the Nepean Diabetes Service, where she undertook her clinical placement for the Graduate Certificate in Diabetes Education and Management.
In this blog, she reflects on her academic and professional journey and offers her advice to future and current students.
I’m a registered nurse and Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Health. I live in Leura, in the Blue Mountains with my husband and three staffy dogs. I have adult children and we just welcomed my first grandchild in January!
I left school when I was just 15, so I was very surprised when I entered a Bachelor of Nursing in my 30s to find I really enjoyed university study. Enjoying learning has meant that I have never stopped seeking further education. My Bachelor led to an Honours degree, which led to a PhD. I have spent a lot of time researching and writing, which is an advantage in any university degree.
Having reached the pinnacle of a doctorate, people were a bit surprised when I enrolled into the Graduate Certificate in Diabetes Education and Management. However, it wasn’t about gaining another degree – it was about continuing to learn and upskill as a registered nurse.
It was also personal as my husband has type 1 diabetes. Undertaking this course and in particular, the clinical placement gave us the courage to transition him from four insulin injections a day to an insulin pump with continuous glucose monitoring.
I think a lot of people undertake this course in order to be able to help family who have diabetes. The degree has been immensely helpful as I am now also basing my research around diabetes in vulnerable populations. The Graduate Certificate gave me a lot more insight into Primary Health Care, which was very useful coming from an intensive care nursing background.
I do intend to use this Graduate Certificate as the basis of Master of Advanced Nursing, so I will be pursuing further education in the future.
Admittedly, it was difficult balancing, teaching and research with part-time study. I had to be very organised and make sure that I scheduled time to devote to the degree. The nice thing about coursework though is that it is finite and occurs in little chunks, so each time you submit an assessment, it’s another little win.
My advice? Try not to sweat the small stuff. Nobody is going to die if the housework suffers a bit. Sometimes, the odd take-away meal is just easier some nights when you have a deadline.
For group work, if you can, work with people who have a similar work ethic – it will mean a lot less frustration! Be collegial and generous and work to everybody’s strengths. In a group, different people have different skills so harness that.
Finally, try and enjoy the learning, receive feedback with a grateful heart and use it to improve your study skills for the next assessment.
Find out more about Diabetes Education and Management at UTS