Student Story - Serene: changing careers

Sep 10, 2020

Serene, Int Nursing

Having completed a business degree, Serene had no trouble building a career in the finance and education industries at home in Singapore. However, a budding interest in nursing led to a new chapter of life as an international student in Adelaide. We caught up with Serene to hear about her journey, her experiences studying a Diploma of Nursing (093597G/HLT54115), and what she is up to now.

What made you want to study Nursing?

Nursing is a well-respected profession and Australia is renowned for its healthcare system, so I wanted to learn from the leaders in healthcare. Also, Australia and many countries such as Singapore face an ageing population, so I wanted to equip myself with skills that allow me to be prepared to take care of this population, including my parents and relatives.

How did you come to choose your course?

The Diploma of Nursing (093597G/HLT54115) was an ideal course for me in terms of course duration, to assess if I possessed the abilities to be a nurse - since interest and abilities do not always come hand-in-hand. I was attracted to TAFE SA as it offered face-to-face lessons, which was important to me as I was new to nursing content and would appreciate support in my studies.  Upon further research, I discovered TAFE SA has many campuses and well-equipped facilities, in addition to being regularly audited, so I had full faith that I was going to get a robust nursing education.

What is something you enjoyed whilst studying?

Our lecturers were extremely supportive and shared tonnes of their industry experience with us, which helped us understand the concepts better. I appreciated that we could chat about anything, even my classmates were all really diverse and shared a lot, which isn’t so common in a more conservative society. Also, the supervision we received during our practicals in the simulation labs really helped prepare us for our nursing placements.

What are you doing now that you have finished your qualification at TAFE SA?

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 I returned to Singapore. I wasn’t comfortable with the limited flights, as I had left my 10-year-old Siberian Husky, Herbie, back home. However, I got a part-time job really quickly in a leading hospital in Singapore, doing care work while I was waiting for my AHPRA registration. The skills I learnt at TAFE SA provided me with a good foundation for the work in the hospital.

What are some skills that you have learnt which are benefiting you now?

Definitely manual handling, as I apply the concepts at work now, whenever we need to transfer patients.  Also, hand hygiene and infection control proved so important due to COVID-19! I am reminding everyone back home the proper way to don (put on) and doff (take off) face masks.  Most importantly though, we learnt anatomy and various diseases, which is extremely useful when you have parents over the age of 70 years old. It's been helpful for me to not get lost in jargon when we go to the doctors now. 

Were you affected by COVID-19? How did you stay positive?

I was affected like all the other students, where our lessons were taken online. This was tough as we had our last unit and it was pretty heavy, but our lecturer had weekly Skype sessions to answer any questions which was greatly appreciated.

On a more personal level, my housemate had returned to Singapore just before restrictions were enforced in South Australia. It was a scary thought that I was alone down under, with no way home should anything happen. 

Fortunately, I had moved 2 blocks away from my classmate, so we had weekly dinners and study sessions to support one another. We also did role plays to prepare for our practical assessments.  My friends in Singapore also held regular Zoom sessions with me to catch up, so even though I was physically alone, I was never alone in spirit.

Do you have any advice for students considering studying abroad?

If you want to be equipped with skill sets that prepares you well for the industry, TAFE SA is the place to be. Your TAFE SA experience will be what you make out of it, so be curious, inquisitive and eager to learn. Ask questions as the faculty has a wealth of knowledge to share. Most importantly, enjoy South Australia, the home to delicious food and wine, breathtaking scenery and warm Australian hospitality.

I would also like to add - Thank you, TAFE SA for giving me such a good foundation for the start of my nursing career. Special shoutout to Sophia, Andy, Claire, and Yanfei, for always being so helpful in any hurdles we faced in our studies. I saved really hard for three years before coming to Australia and although it was hard to leave my dog behind, it was money and time well spent to be able to live and study in such a beautiful state. It is not goodbye but see you again, Adelaide!