I feel most of us would agree that it takes a very personal experience to really capture our focus and direct us onto a new path that we had never previously contemplated. For me, it was a serious health issue that threatened the life I had created around my family and our very ordinary yet comfortable routine. This difficult time in my life brought into focus how much we take for granted in spite of our best efforts, and gave me a very real insight into the dedication and expertise of our healthcare workers.
This personal experience provided me with the impetus to begin studies as a registered nurse. The decision was a huge learning curve for the whole family and they supported me wholeheartedly as I ventured back into the academic world as a mature age student. There were plenty of times that I felt daunted by what I was taking on - the curriculum was fascinating but intense and the realisation of being responsible for another person's well being was incredibly confronting. In venturing into academia the support that I received from my fellow students, my various lecturers and institution educators was invaluable – I have conquered my feelings of self-doubt to learn new skills, manage assessment deadlines, and master ever changing technology. It also gave me an invaluable network of support via conversation forums, study tips and links for further learning. On a personal level I was only too familiar with how vulnerable you feel when confronted with serious illness. At the same time I recognise what an incredible privilege is to look after someone during such a challenging time in their lives. As nurses we are in a unique position to provide not only expertise and skills but also encouragement and support and to advocate on behalf of our patients to ensure they are seen holistically - to see the person not just the symptoms.
My university program not only ensured I gained the essential knowledge and practical skills that I required to be a safe, efficient nurse but to retain a focus on the patient as a real person, not so different from myself. With the support of classmates, university academic and administration staff I felt my enthusiasm grow as I progressed through my program. My confidence has grown exponentially - a lifetime away from how I felt that first day of class and I have now enrolled in a Masters program and plan to do work in community programs to teach others and voluntary programs such as with the Red Cross.
And throughout this journey I have never forgotten the commitment and selflessness of the nursing staff who cared for me during my own health crisis.
To honour them I aspire to be amongst them - to be the best I can be.