The Art of Nursing

Written by Aimee Lamb, Associate Lecturer (Nursing), Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney

Studying to be a nurse can be difficult at the best of times, but amidst a global pandemic, the complexities were magnified. Transitioning to online learning from what would normally be authentic, interactive, and face-to-face learning experiences was stressful for many students.

‘Zoom fatigue’ was common and, despite remarkably high student satisfaction scores, it was apparent that students’ motivation and enthusiasm for learning declined. Coupled with personal stressors, concerns about caring for COVID positive patients, and the social isolation that many students experienced, 2020 and 2021 created unprecedented challenges.

Against this background, a small group of academics from the UTS School of Nursing & Midwifery devised the Art of Nursing competition with the aim of boosting students’ engagement, motivation and sense of purpose. 

The Aim 

The Art of Nursing competition was designed to encourage and celebrate the creativity of nursing students, and to inspire their reflection on and deeper understanding of the meaning of illness, the impact of nursing care, and the experience of studying during a global pandemic.

Original artworks could be created using a variety of techniques including drawing, comics, painting, photography, poetry, literature or film. The artworks were to respond to the quotes below: 

“Nothing endures but change” Heraclitus 

“The new normal” OR “Now more than ever” 

The Response 

The judging panel was overwhelmed with the quality of the artworks submitted. The feedback from Professor Tracy Levett-Jones, Head of School, and member of the judging panel, echoed those of the other panel members (Natalie Govind, Judy Smith and Natalie Cutler):

The quality of the artwork was outstanding, but the significance and stories took our breath away! I won’t ever forget Daniel’s short film and Laura’s graduation image. The challenges faced in 2020-2021 were brought to life in the images and were so moving.

The artwork depicting the impact of COVID on patients’ experiences were also thoughtful and beautiful. That said, all of the artwork were all unique and powerful and I know they will capture the imagination of everyone who sees them.” 

Although the standard of all entries was very high, the three finalists were:  

1st Place: Daniel Sheppard 

2nd Place: Dilara Unal                            

3rd Place: Joo Ying Maureen Tan 

We have been inspired by the Art of Nursing competition and we hope to make it an annual event at UTS SONM.

5 Questions with a Midwifery student

Written by Hannah Nouri, UTS Bachelor of Midwifery student

1) What is it like studying a Bachelor of Midwifery at UTS?

Midwifery is a passionate course. When studying midwifery, you get to know the ins and outs of the mechanics of birth, and all of the science around it.

You also really get to learn and solidify your clinical skills, especially in placement, that ensure you provide the best possible care.

Finally, you learn the social justice issues that surround midwifery and birth. It is such a great privilege to be able to make a positive impact on a woman and child’s life going forward, and you can’t be a midwife without being a feminist!

2) How did you research your current degree?

Like lots of people, in year 12 I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do when I got to uni. I knew my areas of interest, I particularly liked science, maths, and legal studies in school.

Naturally I felt inclined to something in the medical field, where I could combine the scientific and clinical knowledge, with skills and application in justice. Which is how I landed on midwifery!

What really made me decide to go here and gave me the greatest insight into UTS and other unis, was events like Open Day and Info Sessions. If you’re not sure where you want to go or what to study, I’d suggest checking out the UTS website for any events happening soon.

3) How did you find the transition to uni? Did you go to orientation or use any support services?

Before I came to UTS I did a gap year program called Year 13, where I studied a Certificate in Theology. I think that this helped me immensely in transitioning to uni, as it allowed me to get used to the skills needed for studying and collaborating with other students.

However, I would say that uni is much easier than the HSC in terms of study load. You’re only in classes for around 12 hours a week, depending on your course, compared to ~40… and you’re hopefully doing something that you love!

Orientation is a really great way to get to know the uni and the services available to you, and your lecturers will help transition you in first year to the study pattern and lifestyle at UTS. I’ve used almost every support service at UTS and can 100% recommend them: they’re there to help you (and they’re free!).

4) What’s the best thing about studying Midwifery at UTS?

The best thing about studying midwifery at UTS is the incredible community you develop with your peers. It is always so refreshing to come back from placement and be able to share and reflect on your stories/experiences with like-minded students and staff who care so passionately about caring for women in pregnancy.

There is never a dull moment in midwifery, and I have never had any trouble working in groups because people are so genuine and caring!

5) What advice would you give to students considering studying Midwifery?

If you are considering midwifery, make sure that it is really what you want to do. For the next 3 years it will be all that you do, and when you graduate, you will only be qualified to practice as a midwife.

Midwifery doesn’t offer the flexibility of other courses, but what it lacks there it makes up for in the wonderful nature of the course.

Find out more about studying Midwifery at UTS.

Shifting from Nursing to Public Health

Written by Kavya Reji, UTS Master of Public Health student

As a recent Nursing graduate and a current Master of Public Health student, I have always been passionate about making a difference in the lives of patients as well as helping the broader community.

The immersion of hands-on experience and clinical placements provided through the Bachelor of Nursing degree ignited my interest towards community health.

Even through the insightful nursing knowledge and experience gained from my undergraduate degree, this paved my passion for empowering communities and enhancing healthcare solutions on a population level.

This led me to the Master of Public Health where I felt this degree was a perfect opportunity to hone my health promotion, health policy, epidemiology, and data entry skills.

I found that applying my nursing knowledge was highly beneficial to the Master of Public Health degree especially with delving further into specific diseases, health promotion programs and researching various populations.

The Master of Public Health at UTS offered as a part-time load, suited well with my ongoing work schedule.

The degree is delivered fully online, and I found that with effective time management skills, the content and assessments are easily manageable.

There are also many helpful people from Subject Coordinators to Student Success Advisors who are very supportive and readily available with providing academic support and course progression assistance, so you are never left on your own.

5 ways to thrive in group work

Written by Tanya Topham, UTS Bachelor of Nursing student

Although group work can be seen as a daunting task, there are many ways to improve your overall experience. Here are the 5 methods that have allowed me to flourish in group work activities.

1. Schedule group meetings in advance and write notes during the meetings

By scheduling your group meetings in advance, members of your group can mark out their calendars, thereby preventing non-attendance at meetings. Scheduling and attending routine meetings can allow you to track how much work has been completed by each group member. Writing notes during group meetings, otherwise known as ‘minutes’, is an effective way to reflect on key points voiced.

2. Know your group members strengths

Knowing the skills of your group members is important when assigning roles. Your group members may have different skills in research, multimedia, essay writing, and proofreading, so it is important to gauge every individual’s skills in the first meeting.

3. Assign roles in advance

By delegating assessment roles in advance, members of the group will be able to begin working on their section of the assignment, thereby potentially avoiding procrastination. Additionally, team members will be able to clarify their assigned section of the assessment well before the assessment due date.

4. Use collaborative tools and encourage group members to voice their concerns

By using collaborative tools, such as co-authoring documents, you may be able to gauge the amount of work each group member has completed. Using co-authoring documents may allow for easier proofreading and drafting, as all members would be able to edit the document. It is also important to encourage group members to voice their queries or concerns, as not addressing such queries and concerns sooner may lead to disarray and procrastination.

5. Set a draft and completion date well before the formal assessment due date

By setting early draft and completion dates, you may be able to avoid ‘cramming’ work. Setting an earlier draft and completion date may give team members ample to alter their work if needed before the formal assessment due date.

Learn more about studying Health at UTS.

From biotechnology to quality of life

Written by Yinyin Phyo, IMPACCT Trials Coordination Centre Research Assistant

As a Master of Philosophy in Medical Biotechnology student, my original focus was on lab-based science. Although I was exposed to the concepts of clinical trials and public or social health, these were not deeply explored but had piqued my interest, as I wanted to bridge the gap in my knowledge between science and health.

I was interested in directly connecting with health care professionals and patients to explore their experiences, which would not have been possible in a lab. When the opportunity came along to complete an honours project with the UTS Faculty of Health’s Improving Palliative, Aged and Chronic Care through Clinical Research and Translation (IMPACCT) research centre, I was really excited to be exposed to this different area of research. The research focused on a patient’s quality of life and symptom improvement or management, rather than jumping straight into searching for a cure or looking at samples under a microscope. 

For my honours project, I focused on investigating the different perspectives of health care professionals and patients in secondary constipation, resulting from underlying medical issues or medications. Although an extremely common problem, there is no standardised criteria to assess for constipation, and there is no universal definition of it as it is a highly subjective experience.

There is also a stigma around constipation as it can be a difficult thing to talk about both for patients and health care professionals. As a result, constipation is often poorly understood, underdiagnosed, and underestimated, leading to inadequate assessments or diagnosis by health care professionals and minimal treatment satisfaction from patients.

Due to COVID-19 disruptions to my data collection, I was required to complete an additional project. Therefore, my thesis comprised of two parts: a survey that focused on a palliative care population and their experiences of constipation, as well as a systematic review.

Each study found differing perspectives and experiences of what constipation was. There were inconsistencies in terminology, clinical assessment, and symptom considerations. I found that using strategies that base a clinician’s assessment on a patient’s subjective experience, considering treatment beyond laxatives and diet, and further training or education are essential for effective care in clinical practice and reducing any barriers to communication. 

My transition from medical biotechnology to focusing on quality of life has been a rewarding one so far. Overall, I achieved a High Distinction for my thesis, while the survey component is still ongoing until June 2022 to collect more patient data.

I would like to thank my supervisors, Professor Meera Agar, Dr Rayan Saleh Moussa, Professor Katy Clark and Dr Catherine Burke, as well as Linda Brown, PaCCSC/CST National Manager, and Paul Byrne, Statistician, who provided immense support throughout this project.

Find out more about study opportunities with IMPACCT

5 tips for studying online

Written by Tijana Sharp, UTS Bachelor of Sport and Exercise student

Studying online may be convenient but can present its own challenges, with constant distractions, spotty connections and Zoom fatigue being on the top of a long list of struggles. Fortunately, there’s some things you can do to make it better!

Here’s my top 5 tips for studying online:

1. Create a routine

I find creating a daily and even weekly routine keeps me on track and helps me avoid the distractions of my phone, snacks, and TV. If I keep my diary close by, I am often much more accountable and productive.

2. Take breaks – find your 30!

Take breaks, stand up, get moving! Being a sport and exercise science student, this has become a habit of mine that I am extra conscious about while studying and working from home.

I try to stand once an hour and get at least 30 mins of activity in each day as per the physical activity guidelines!

3. Stay hydrated

It is so easy to forget to hydrate, but this is so important for our health and brain function. I keep a bottle close by, and I use filling it up as a cheeky break from the desk too!

4. Change it up!

Staring into a screen all day from the one chair can get so boring! I try to make sure I move around during the day, even if I take my laptop with me. Some of my favourite tips are to create a standing desk or move outside for some time to make sure you get your daily dose of vitamin D!

5. Create a nice space with natural light

Clear desk = clear mind, right? This tip has been so valuable to me throughout my studies. It makes it so much easier to concentrate without the distraction of a mess; and natural light provides clarity and can be refreshing. 

Learn about studying Health at UTS

Why you should try new sports as a Sports and Exercise student

Written by Lara Ralph, UTS Sport and Exercise student

Working as a Sport and Exercise professional, it can be extremely valuable to have knowledge across disciplines. Here’s my top 3 reasons to try new sports/fitness programs throughout your degree:

1. To know what it is like to be a rookie/novice at something

As sport and exercise students, we all have certain sports or fitness activities that we excel in. However, throughout your career you will likely come across people who are new to something and only just at the beginning of their learning.

This could include an older adult attending a gym for the first time, a young person undertaking a new sport or a rehabilitation patient learning (or re-learning) a new skill. In each of these cases, to better empathise with the client it is critical that the practitioner understands themselves what it is like to be a rookie.

The only way to experience this – challenges, failure, persevering with a smile, and a couple laughs – is by throwing yourself into something new every now and then, so why not have a go? 

2. Better relate to future clients, due to the widespread experiences you have acquired

The more you experience, the more you learn… and the more you learn, the more you know! By expanding your own scope of sport and fitness, you will be able to relate to a greater number of people throughout your career.

As a practitioner, your future patients may come from a range of sporting backgrounds and the best way to tailor your treatment is to know more about their sport and the demands it places on the body.

Never tried CrossFit before? Try out a CrossFit workout. Not only will you gain a greater understanding of what it entails, but you will also get a great workout along the way!

3. It is a great way to see your course content in action and enrich your understanding

Throughout your sport and exercise degree, you will learn about an extensive range of concepts around movement and training. With this, each concept will vary with what areas of sport/exercise it best applies to.

By expanding your sporting and fitness experience, you will get to see how concepts arise in different contexts – thereby improving your understanding of course content overall. So, whether you are Team Anaerobic or Team Aerobic when it comes to fitness, have a go at something from the opposite discipline.

Swap your morning run for a morning resistance training session or vice versa – at the end of the day it’s all about increasing the scope of your learning as wide and far as you can!

Find out more about studying Sport and Exercise at UTS

5 tips to help you through nursing placement

Written by Tanya Topham, UTS Bachelor of Nursing student.

Throughout my studies as a nursing student at UTS, I have learnt some valuable tips for placement. Here are the top 5 strategies that I found helpful in the field.

1. Make clear notes

Whilst on placement, carrying a pocket-sized notebook has proven to be invaluable. Some useful things to keep track of are your principal activity sets that outline your scope of practice on placement; any nursing/medical abbreviations that you come across (and their definitions!); shift planners and medication formulas. It is important to ask your clinical facilitators on whether you are allowed to carry a pocket-sized notebook, as rules may differ in each facility.

I also recommend using a multi-coloured pen, to easily colour-coordinate informal notes, such as shift planners and questions to ask my facilitator. Writing with a multi-coloured pen on placement made my written work quicker and easier to interpret. However, be wary, as patient records may only allow certain pen colours to be used.

2. Do your research first!

Researching the speciality area of your placement is really important, so you can make the most of your experience. Researching information such as medical/nursing procedures, acronyms, abbreviations and medications utilised in the speciality area of different placements has allowed me to be better prepared for day one on site.

Getting to know UTS ‘MyPlacement’ will prove extremely beneficial as it offers important details about placement, such as locations, shift times and orientation information. A range of faculty documents are available on ‘MyPlacement’, including shift planners and clinical calendars, which have been extremely helpful in preparation and whilst on placement.

Finally, get to know the layout of the facility. Facilities offering clinical placement often have a map of their complex available on their website, and this material is often provided on ‘MyPlacement’. These maps usually identify the locations of wards and entrances which has helped me to become familiar with the layout of the facilities prior to placements.

3. Invest in comfortable shoes

Clinical placement shifts often require long periods of standing and walking. To avoid sore feet, I suggest well-fitted, comfortable shoes that comply with UTS nursing standards.

4. Plan your transport

As trains, roads, and buses can have planned roadwork and trackwork, it’s really important to plan the type of transport you will use to commute to placement well in advance. TripView is a great public transport app that I have used to plan journeys to and from placement.

Some placement facilities may offer free parking, whilst others may not. Parking details are often included on the facilities website, and other nursing students may know if certain roads surrounding your placement facility are vacant for street parking. Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice!

5. Be proactive in your learning

Clinical placement is a great opportunity to ask relevant questions to your allocated registered nurse and facilitator. Though remember to keep within the scope of practice for each placement. Following the principal activity set allocated for each subject for placement is a great way to keep within your scope of practice.

If you are unsure about any procedures, or require further explanation to develop your learning, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Writing questions and answers relating to clinical skills in your notes is a great way to reflect on your learning after your shift.

Find out more about studying nursing at UTS

Staying motivated at uni

Written by Maiki Sun (Sport and Exercise Science), Lara Ralph (Sport and Exercise Science) and David Ada (Nursing)

Staying motivated over the course of your degree can get tough at times. After all, three or more years of constant focus throughout some of the most exciting times of your life can be a big ask! To help you out, we reached out to some of our student ambassadors to hear their top tips on staying motivated at uni.

1) Connect with your peers

“Organising group study sessions or even just asking them questions helps you to keep engaged in the subject while increasing your understanding of the content. You can also make this fun!” – Maiki Sun

“When each of your uni friends have different personal interests and work/volunteer experiences, sharing these allows for a great deal of learning to take place! When discussing course content with peers, it is often the case that one friend has a relevant story or perspective to add.

“Try to get your driver’s licence ASAP so you can attend afternoon placements, as there are sometimes no public transport options available when you finish! – Lara Ralph

2) Explore opportunities given to you

“To really understand how the industry operates, find a suitable opportunity that aligns with your interests and potential future career. For a sport and exercise degree, this could include admin work at an allied health clinic, volunteering for a semi-professional sporting club or coaching and working with youth players.

You never know who you might meet – that’s how industry connections and networks are made!” – Lara Ralph

“Be future-minded! Studying a degree is like investing with compound interest, the closer you are to finishing, the more experience you will gain. Those essays, reports, and quizzes that are due in the coming future will assist you when you graduate!” – David Ada

3) Don’t be too hard on yourself!

“Reward yourself every step of the way and be proud of your accomplishments! This helps to keep you motivated and wanting to get tasks done while also preventing burnout.

Also, schedule in breaks! This will help you to maximise your study time and prevent burnout. Exercising is a great way to step away from work and helps you to focus on your studying. While taking your mind off uni work, you’re also getting all the other benefits of physical activity!” – Maiki Sun

“Talk about your motivation levels! Demotivation could be a symptom of underlying stress or potentially even deeper concerns! Booking an appointment with a counsellor or talking to a healthcare professional can help you navigate and enhance your motivation with your uni studies!” – David Ada

4) Stay organised and learn actively

“Create a weekly schedule and write to do lists. A schedule helps to keep you on task, and lets you feel accomplished when you cross tasks off your list! Creating a routine can also help you study needed but also relax when it’s time to take a break.” – Maiki Sun

“When lots of new content is coming your way, motivation can take a temporary dip. I find the best way to digest content is to think about how I could apply it myself – often in the form of a real-world example or seeing how others use it in the industry (such as current research ideas or areas of practice).

When you can see why each concept is relevant, you are much more likely to remember them and have greater motivation to keep up with your studies.” – Lara Ralph

5) Follow your interests and chat to the experts!

“Find a certain aspect of the field or individual (practitioner, researcher, entrepreneur etc.) that intrigues you. Simply reading up on these, watching interviews or listening to a podcast can serve as a reminder of why you enjoy your course… and motivate you to continue working towards your dream career!

Also, speaking to your teachers can be really inspiring! Throughout my degree, I have had the chance to learn from many academics and practitioners, each with their own area of interest and expertise.

Chatting to them about their experiences (such as working with the Sydney Swans or a multi-national fitness company) has motivated me to continue striving for my best academically. The academic staff at UTS are highly approachable and always willing to share their wisdom, so motivation is never in short-supply!” – Lara Ralph

Find out more about studying at Health at UTS

A day (or night) on midwifery clinical placement

Written by Jacqueline Hermann, UTS Midwifery student

Be prepared for the unexpected – midwifery is dynamic, busy and you never know who is going to walk through the door! Tag along a midwifery student’s clinical placement and hear about what goes on!

Every shift on a midwifery clinical placement is different. This is the nature of pregnancy and birth – each woman is going to have her own unique experience, and as midwives we need to adapt our practice to provide woman-centred care that is individualised and supportive of her preferences. 

There are many different areas you will be assigned to work in as a midwifery student. In the antenatal clinic women come in for their routine appointments. This involves taking clinical history, assessing the woman physically, emotionally, and mentally, assessing the wellbeing of the baby and providing education and advice.

In the birth unit, you could be supporting a woman in labour, helping to facilitate birth, assessing a woman who has come in for monitoring or caring for a woman following the birth of her baby in the immediate postnatal period.

After doing bed-side handover, I will either start with observations or assist the RM with medication rThe postnatal ward involves supporting women after the birth of their babies. The work often involves consulting with a multidisciplinary healthcare team that includes medical officers, lactation consultants, women’s health physios, perinatal mental health and social workers, and the Early Childhood Health Centre.

On a daily basis you can expect to be supporting women to breastfeed, educating women and their support people on mother-crafting skills and normal newborn behaviours, and attending to observations and checks on the woman and her baby. Some women may have greater needs, especially if they have had a caesarean section or an instrumental birth.

The postnatal ward is usually busy and requires you to be able to plan out your day based on the needs of the women and babies in your care, have exceptional time management skills, and be able to prioritise care.

These are the main areas within a hospital setting that clinical placement is completed, but other areas you may gain experience in include the antenatal ward, where high risk women are admitted for ongoing monitoring, special care nursery, operating theatres, birth centre, community based antenatal clinics and other specialised clinics.

Any given day can bring a variety of experiences, that help to develop the clinical skills needed to become a Registered Midwife. 

Learn more about studying Midwifery at UTS.