"The evidenced based practice subjects were really challenging... We learned to appraise the evidence and consider the clinician’s expertise, settings and patient preferences and values to implement this evidence into our future practice."
The Master of Advanced Nursing program has specialty subjects, including paediatrics, which is what I have chosen as my specialty area. In my home country of Fiji, the paediatric nursing specialisation is still in its infancy, so I decided to study at the University of Melbourne to broad my knowledge in this area and eventually bring this knowledge back to my colleagues in Fiji.
During my search for universities that offer paediatric courses, I was not able to find another university in Australia that offered this type of course. The University of Melbourne caught my attention way before I even thought about applying, however. I used to follow the Facebook page; there was just something about the university that excited me.
Another reason why I chose the University of Melbourne is because of the affiliation with the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital, which is one of the best in the world. Most of our lecturers also work at the hospital, so there is a strong correlation between what we learn and what is currently being practiced.
The evidenced based practice subjects were really challenging. They were tough, but at the same time it was exciting to learn about how to find relevant literature in addressing clinical questions that can arise during practice to ensure practice is backed up with the best available evidence. We learned to appraise the evidence and consider the clinician’s expertise, settings and patient preferences and values to implement this evidence into our future practice.
A highlight of the course for me was hearing the experiences of nurses from well-resourced areas and sharing their knowledge and expertise through lectures and discussions. Another highlight is how humble the subject coordinators are and the patience they show towards us, while at the same time prompting us to remain true to our core values. They also made sure we knew the importance of time management as well as academic integrity while undertaking the course. My wall planner surely helped when it came to planning my work!
Due to COVID-19, my first and second semester was online, although I had some face-to-face classes prior to the lockdown. I tried to ensure that I had breaks from the screen whenever I could, and printed out notes and readings to avoid looking at the screen for too long. I also tried to dress up for online classes even though I was at home to psyche myself up! I try to treat online learning like I am actually going into campus. I schedule my breaks and try to have planned activities every day, including self-care activities.
I hope to work in together with my colleagues back in Fiji in applying what I have learnt into practice. Putting what I have learnt into practice will really help me improve my skills and knowledge. I would like to be an agent of change in my organisation as we shift gradually from the traditional ways of doing things to evidence-based practice.
Before studying the course, I worked at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Lautoka Hospital in Fiji. I was the shift team leader and part of the facilitating team for the Neonatal Resuscitation Program. I enjoy looking after the sick neonates, interacting with the patients’ families, as well as working alongside the other nurses, doctors and allied health professionals to ensure we offer the best service we can to the neonates that are admitted under our care.
I have gained a lot of insights and new knowledge with regards to paediatrics as a whole. I have learnt more about paediatric diseases and care, such as developmental changes and age-appropriate nursing care. I’ve also learned about providing anticipatory guidance to parents as the child continues to develop. This course has given me a holistic approach when it comes to paediatric nursing. First and foremost, our role is to work with the families as partners to promote family-centred care into practice. Evidence has shown the benefits it has for the patients, the parents and the clinicians in improving health outcomes for this population.
My advice to future students is to prepare holistically and develop a positive mindset so that you can face whatever challenges may come your way. Hold true to you values and remain positive to get you through the hard times. My family supported me through prayers while I was away from them, and that really helped me. Always seek help when you need it, because help is always available.
I would also encourage students to create a network of peers and not to be afraid to contact lecturers whenever if you are finding difficulties as they are very friendly and can provide guidance to appropriate university services.
I am inspired by people’s drive to continue to improve the care we offer to patients and their families. Also, the acknowledgement that to err is human, and working towards the common goal of providing the best care in a holistic manner. Lastly, I’m inspired by the ever-going research and evidence base that we can use to review our care towards patients and keep up to date with current best practice.