"Nursing involves a lot of patient care, practical experience and potential pathways to other specialisations which really appealed to me...You will experience so much within the two years and the course will prepare you to be a Registered Nurse. It is a challenging course because it is content-heavy, but it is worth it."
I decided to study nursing because I was interested in healthcare and psychology, as I studied my undergraduate in psychology. I realised that to become a clinical psychologist, I would have to spend 3-5 years studying a Masters of PhD, so instead decided to look into nursing. Nursing involves a lot of patient care, practical experience and potential pathways to other specialisations which really appealed to me.
The placement part of the course is exceptionally appealing to me. It is an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge to practice, which was lacking in my undergraduate degree. The University of Melbourne's degree is internationally recognised, and the possibility of working as an international nurse, or taking NCLEX to be able to work in North America, is one of the main reasons I chose to study at the University of Melbourne.
I was looking forward to the four-week mental health placement as part of the course. Because of my psychology background, I was excited to utilise some of my knowledge from my undergrad. Most universities I investigated only devoted three weeks to mental health, so that extra time spent on mental health practice was another reason I chose the University of Melbourne. The skills I have developed from this mental health placement are communication skills and a thorough Mental State Exam (MSE). It has been challenging to converse with clients that are often guarded, but over time I started to learn how to build trust and form a professional therapeutic rapport with them. MSE is also an essential skill for all mental health clinicians and professionals, contributing significantly to other potential future mental health pathways.
When I graduate, I want to become a mental health nurse. The mental health placement prepared me well with the fundamental skills I need working as a mental health nurse. I worked on an acute psychiatric ward and I got a lot of exposure to different types of mental disorders and clients.
I think the best parts of the Master of Nursing Science are my peers and the class sizes. Compared to other universities, the University of Melbourne tends to have a smaller cohort each year which makes it easier to get to know everyone and form a tight bond with your peers. Another benefit of a small cohort is that the lecturer and subject coordinators can closely interact with students and attend to almost every student's needs and help if they are having issues.
For the Master of Nursing Science program, we have lab practice every semester to practise our clinical skills such as manual handling, subcutaneous and IM injections, blood glucose level testing and medication administration. Another practical component is the Professional Clinical Placement. We need to complete 800 hours’ worth of clinical placement to graduate and meet the requirements for licensure and registration with the nursing board. These practical programs helped me greatly in applying my theoretical knowledge to practice. Also, lab practice before clinical placement helped me consolidate my clinical skills to avoid mistakes, reduce anxiety and conduct appropriate care.
When Melbourne locked down, the University transformed our lecture components to online learning through LMS and Zoom. Some labs were also transferred to virtual labs. I appreciate all the staff's hard work, especially with our weekly debriefing sessions with the Head of Department to hear our opinions. The teaching team also sent out learning packages with essential nursing tools for us to practice at home. The biggest challenge was the lab components since some nursing tools like needles and syringes need to be regulated, and we couldn't really practice at home. The innovative way I approached online learning would be forming a study group. We do weekly study sessions through Zoom to consolidate our knowledge.
I am currently working as a Health Assistant in Nursing (HAN) at Royal Melbourne Hospital and a Registered Undergraduate Student of Nursing (RUSON) at Eastern Health. Both jobs involve assisting patients with their daily living and manual handling. Working as a RUSON also gives me the opportunity to perform vital sign observations for patients. I enjoy both roles because they give me extra opportunity bedside placements to review my clinical skills and work in different environments. It is because of the course that I was able to obtain these roles, and they will be a good asset to my resume and hopefully help me with my graduate year application.
Working with the healthcare team and various healthcare professionals on placement is a big inspiration. It made me realise that nurses are vital and indispensable members of the healthcare team.
My advice to future students is to enjoy the ride and cherish every minute of it. You will experience so much within the two years and the course will prepare you to be a Registered Nurse. It is a challenging course because it is content-heavy, but it is worth it. Some tips would be to form a study hub, develop time management strategies, apply for roles like HAN and RUSON and be proactive!