Krambach resident Audrey Morrison is an inspiration, showing us that it’s never too late to start a new course of study, or change our career pathway. Audrey has recently completed her Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled Nurse) at TAFE, is now undertaking a uni degree and hopes to be a fully qualified Registered Nurse by the time she’s 56 …
Hi Audrey. How long have you called Krambach home?
My husband and I visited the area one weekend when we were in the Air Force. We totally fell in love and purchased our Tipperary property, moving here in 2008 and living in the shed until our house was built in 2012.
Please tell us a bit about your work background and some of the roles you’ve held.
I left school in 1984 (before completing Year 12) and gained employment as a Nursing Assistant in an aged care home for two years. My social life was certainly a focus and stupidly, I ended up leaving to work in a cake shop. A few months later I decided to work on my uncle’s dairy farm, which was a huge shock to me, as I was used to getting home from the clubs at the time I was now getting up to milk the cows.
I found work as a bar attendant in Perth, then travelled to Adelaide and worked as a barmaid/waitress there for two years, then in 1989 I travelled overseas and worked in Scotland and England.
In 1991 I worked in a video store in Alice Springs, until enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a Medical Clerk. I served in the RAAF for 17 years and loved the diversity and the availability of opportunities within the organisation for personal and professional growth. I discharged because we wanted our children to have the stability of growing up in one place, and a military life couldn’t guarantee that.
When you were at school, what was your “dream” career, and what did you feel were the obstacles in achieving your dream?
In high school I had decided on nursing as a career and had completed work experience in aged care. My electives were selected for entry into university nursing, but I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of being the first person in my family to attend university, with my older brother leaving school at age 14 years and my younger sister finishing at age 15.
The biggest obstacle for me was a lack of confidence, compounded by some teenage decisions that radically derailed my plans for the next 34 years.
When/how did you decide it was possible to become a nurse?
I’ve always been drawn to all things medical and following our move to the Mid North Coast, I was working at Taree TAFE, telling prospective students about the great Enrolled Nurse course – and one day had the realisation that I was also a prospective student. It took me a few months of deciding before I actually committed myself and applied for the course, and now I wonder what took me so long. This has been a life changing decision for me and our family.
Tell us a bit about the Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled Nurse) scholarship offered by NSW Health in partnership with TAFE …
There are 300 scholarships offered each year across NSW through TAFE and other RTOs. Successful applicants pay a student contribution that can be reimbursed after 12 months’ employment with NSW Health. The scholarship also offers a period of employment following completion and registration as an enrolled nurse.
The course was reasonably demanding, with 25 units of study to complete either full or part-time, which guarantees many hours at the computer, including classroom time and 400 hours of mandatory work placement
You completed the Diploma last year, but you had to juggle studying with motherhood. How much of a challenge was it to go back to study as a mature age student?
The hardest part was finding the confidence to take on the commitment of full-time study and to believe that I could achieve my goal. I was blessed to have the support of my family, who I’m sure got tired of leftovers and ad hoc meals and me taking advantage of their school holidays to put some serious time to my assignments.
I hope that by pursuing my dreams and studying at this age, I’m providing a positive role model for my kids, showing them that it’s never too late to achieve your goals.
Where are you currently working, and how much are you enjoying your job?
I’m currently working at the Manning Base Hospital in Taree as a casual Enrolled Nurse, which is wonderful, as I learn something new every shift and I get to experience so many areas within the hospital. On any day I could be employed in the maternity or children’s ward or be nursing with post-operative or palliative care patients. Working casually allows me to balance home and work commitments, and I LOVE what I do; I’m always enthusiastic to get to work.
What are your plans moving forward?
I’m excited and totally terrified to be starting a Bachelor of Nursing (part-time) in July. I’ve never attempted university before, and the thought of embarking on another four years study is very daunting. Having the Diploma of Enrolled Nursing under my belt cuts the university degree by one year, and enrolling part-time means that I can work, study, and still have a life with my family. This way, I’ve got the best of all worlds, as I’m still earning a wage, acquiring on the job experience, and developing new skills at the same time as studying for a higher qualification.
My plan is to be a Registered Nurse before I turn 56 years old and enjoy this new career until retirement age.
What would you say to encourage anyone who’s thinking about a career change or a new course of study?
I’d always encourage people to follow their dreams and to embrace positive changes to their life, but I’d also advise how important it is to research any new career choice and have a strategy to succeed, as often we’ve got family and financial commitments to support, and juggling those with a study load requires lots of forward planning.
Be brave and go for it! If you don’t try, you’ll never know what you can achieve.