Polly realises her dream after a career change to nursing

Posted by Virginia on 27 November 2017

Ariwia Robinson was in the lucky position of receiving job offers during placement while she was studying nursing at Health Skills Australia (HSA).

Ariwia, a busy mother of three – who goes by the name of Polly – is loving her new career as an Enrolled Endorsed Nurse at a private Aged Care facility in her local community. She is also a student ambassador at HSA’s Melbourne CBD campus, assisting the college on orientation days, at education expos, and mentoring new students.

Many HSA students have been inspired to study nursing following an incident or experience in their personal lives. For Polly, it was during her time as an executive chef, two careers ago, that her desire for a health care career was ignited during a routine workplace event.

“I always wanted to become a Nurse,” said Polly.

“It was during First Aid training as a chef that actually triggered in me the hope of studying nursing, some day.”

However, nursing wasn’t Polly’s next move. Instead, she went on to own and operate beauty salons for 12 years. In this job, caring for others came in the form of clients leaving her appointments looking and feeling better. But even though locals dubbed her ‘the beauty doctor’ for her nurturing makeover talents, by 2015 Polly was finally ready to make the big career change she had delayed for so long. She enrolled in nursing at Health Skills Australia and graduated in May 2017.

“From the moment I called HSA I knew this was the college for me,” said Polly.

“Their instructions were so clear, concise and simple to follow. I completed all the course pre-requisites and application requirements before orientation day. At HSA, with all its professionalism and etiquette at the campus, I just felt right at home.”

Mastering classroom technology

Polly’s first challenge as an HSA student was mastering the digital basics of communicating on the student portal, such as internet research and submitting assessments online. Coming from trades where using her hands got the job done, and having balanced hard work with motherhood for a long time, the first thing Polly needed to do was catch up on her computer skills.

“When I started at HSA I was absolutely useless with modern technology, I could barely turn a computer on,” she said.

“But with the help of the HSA admin and IT departments, I now actually teach students how to operate the computers. I also teach people the system at my workplace, and I no longer hate or despise technology. So thank you, HSA!”

Job offers during study

Work placement was a highlight of Polly’s final year at HSA, where she sampled four types of nursing on-the-job, under supervision. Each facility offered Polly work during her assignments at their premises.

“Within the first couple of days at my first placement, I was offered a job. The moment the placement finished I transferred there, from my part-time aged care facility job, for a change of energy and scenery,” she said.

“The other three placements also offered me positions, including my last and favourite experience, in acute nursing at Wimmera Hospital.”

While at Wimmera, Polly was offered a graduate year as a theatre nurse but reluctantly declined, to work closer to home so she could better manage her young family’s needs. 

A new career begins

Three months after graduating from Health Skills Australia, Polly started her new life as a nurse. She says the aged care environment is unique for its daily personal interactions extending beyond her patients’ medical needs.

“What I enjoy most about what I do is being able to connect with people, whether they are patients, residents, clients, or the family members, friends and acquaintances of those in my care,” she said.

“Knowing that each day is precious, in my work I intend to give everyone the highest quality experience possible and if not, at least put a smile on their faces.”

While the compassionate human touch comes naturally to Polly, her essential technical skills will be kept up-to-date for the duration of her career, because of the focus on professional development for nurses, through ongoing workplace training. Some of the skills Polly will renew each year are in manual-handling, fire safety, wound management and resource allocation.

Student experience

Personal support, teacher responsiveness, college resources and course content are the fondest memories of Polly’s time spent studying at HSA's Melbourne campus.

“The college staff were always available for a one-on-one chat. If you need it, they also offer free professional counselling sessions to assist students,” she said.

“Everything you need for studying is there, including a campus library, text books, stationery, IT facilities, a study nook, career advisers and educators ‘on demand’.  The teachers were selfless and gave their all. When we had difficult questions in class, they would do the research to find the answers and get back to us.”

Find out more 

HSA campuses are located in the Brisbane and Melbourne city centres. The Diploma of Enrolled Nursing course starts in February, May and September each year. Apply online to begin your path to a nursing career.