By Nancy Grimm-Tran, UTS Nursing student
“Am I too old to go to uni and become a nurse?”
Two years ago, when I was looking at changing careers to nursing, I spent many hours on my laptop, researching what I had to do. To save you time, here’s what I found out.
Learn more about the different roles and career pathways in nursing
Studying a Bachelor of Nursing at UTS will qualify you on completion to work as a Registered Nurse (RN). There are also other roles in nursing, including Assistants in Nursing, and Enrolled Nurses. Each role has different scopes of practice, and different levels of responsibility.
If you’re interested in becoming a midwife, this is a closely related but different role and career pathway.
Figure out your entry pathway and consider your options
If you’re keen to become a Registered Nurse, your journey may have a few steps, depending on your previous studies.
I had previously studied at university, with my last degree (a master’s degree) completed almost a decade prior, so I was considered a non-recent school leaver. I was admitted to the Bachelor of Nursing on the basis of my marks from my master’s degree.
If you haven’t studied at university, you may be looking at other options such as admission based on your ATAR (if you finished Year 12 studies) or completing the Special Tertiary Admissions Test (STAT) for admission to the Bachelor of Nursing.
I’ve met students who have chosen to qualify first as an Enrolled Nurse at TAFE, before they move onto studying the Bachelor of Nursing. This might be an option for you if you want to dive into working as a nurse ASAP (or perhaps even work while you study the Bachelor of Nursing!).
The Bachelor of Nursing at UTS takes 3 years full-time (you can also study part-time as well). During that time, you’ll need to consider that you’ll need to take blocks of time to complete clinical placements – these are the periods where you go out to a healthcare facility (e.g., an aged care facility, a hospital ward, or community health settings). You’ll know roughly when the clinical placements will occur, thanks to the clinical ladder, but the exact dates will be confirmed during semester. You’ll need to be fully available every weekday during your placement block, so you might need to keep this in mind if you have work or family commitments.
Each subject will have a variety of assessments as well – they will vary depending on the subject, but might include quizzes during semester, written assignments, group assignments and final exams. It’s really important to know what assignments are due when, so you can plan your study – there can be some periods where you have a few assignments all due in the same week!
Being prepared makes your studies much more manageable and can help you plan ahead if you need to work while you study. I’ve been working in casual roles while I study and was upfront with my employers about my study commitments – they’ve been very supportive and flexible, and I’m really grateful. You can also look at options such as Centrelink support during your studies as well.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Finally, once you’re here at UTS, there are so many programs designed to support you in doing your best during your studies. Programs such as HELPS and UPASS are really helpful with improving your university study skills, and the people who run these programs know where the pain points are in the tricky subjects.
If you’re a parent or carer, or live with disability or chronic health conditions, there are support officers known as Academic Liaison Officers (ALOs) who are there to help you with adjustments for your studies to accommodate your conditions. For Nursing students, these adjustments may include provisions for your assessments and for your clinical placements. I’ve personally received support from the ALOs for Nursing and can confirm that they are lovely and really helpful!
Studying the Bachelor of Nursing has been a huge change in my life, and it has definitely had some very challenging moments and given me some stress. However, I really believe that it is all worth it to become a Registered Nurse – hopefully I will be there very soon! I’ll be in my mid-30s when I graduate, but I’m definitely not the oldest student – there are Nursing students of all ages here at UTS.
Hopefully we’ll see you here soon!
Learn more about studying Nursing at UTS