A career change to surgical nursing worth the wait for Krystina

Posted by Virginia on 20 July 2017

Krystina Simon’s Health Skills Australia (HSA) Diploma was her first move towards a career change from restaurant manager to nurse.

After graduating from HSA in October 2016, she began her graduate nursing year at Cabrini Hospital in Malvern and hopes to specialise in either wound or breast care in the future.

“I am now an Endorsed Enrolled Graduate Nurse working on a Reconstructive Cosmetic, Gastroenterology, Vascular and general surgical ward,” said Krystina.

“I love this ward as it is never boring. There are many wounds to take care of and being post-surgical, it has really helped me hone in on all my basic nursing skills learnt in labs and class. Even though I am only four months into my grad year I have really built on my knowledge and gained a significant amount of confidence since being a student on placement.”

Personal motivation

Like many HSA students, Krystina has realised a long-held desire to become a nurse after a serious family medical experience awakened her to the rewards of the profession.

“My inspiration for starting the Diploma of Nursing was when my daughter Heidi, now aged nine, was born,” she said.

“She was diagnosed with a heart condition and spent the first three months of her life in the Royal Children’s Hospital. Her nurses were amazing and really looked after me as well. I promised myself that I would change my life to be an inspiration to my children as well as other people while caring for patients and their families. I started my nursing journey when my children both started primary school and have never looked back. I know that Nursing is what I am meant to do.”

Krystina worked hard at her HSA studies at Blackburn Campus and as her course drew to a close she prepared for further study to accelerate her career prospects. Her exciting new environment is a world away from the kitchens, customers and menus of her previous life.

“A typical day on my ward includes nursing observations and assessments, medication administration which includes oral, sub cut, Intra Muscular and IV, wound care, assisting and liaising with allied health professionals as well as doctors. I write patient progress notes as well as many other tasks. These skills were learned at the HSA labs and have been built on as I have had more and more practice.”

Placement excursions  

Though she lives in suburban Melbourne, Krystina was able to relocate for her three placement units because she could stay with family nearby for each of the practical assignments. She says the postings away from home enriched her learning and provided a memorable adventure for her two children.

“Clinical placements were an amazing experience for me, I was able to do two of them in regional areas and one interstate in Queensland with the HSA Brisbane students,” she said.

“For my two rural placements in Heathcote, Victoria my children attended the local primary school. It was a great opportunity for the kids to experience a small country school and I was able to see unusual cases compared to those in a city health facility.”

Campus and peer support

With young children and a job to consider, it was HSA’s weekly timetable and the ability to alter her study load as necessary that attracted Krystina to the college. When classes started, the critical academic support was available on campus to put Krystina at ease.

“The most challenging thing was going back as a mature aged student at 30, and learning to learn again,” she said.

“I was faced with writing assignments, referencing, working in groups and organising my time. My lecturers always had time to coach me with approaching an assignment, to help me find research materials, and there was a lot of instruction on how to reference. Not to mention the support from classmates and working together on subjects, encouraging each other as well as providing emotional support.”

Krystina encourages anyone with a desire to enter her profession to get started without hesitation.

“I would advise anyone thinking of studying with HSA to just jump in and do it. You will not look back or regret it. Nursing is such a rewarding and exciting career and the foundation of knowledge and experience I gained from HSA are second to none,” she said.

“HSA students are easily recognised and widely known for their knowledge and work ethic, and this really shone through on all my placements as well as in my interview with my current employers.”

Find out more

Watch our short video about life as a Health Skills Australia Diploma of Nursing student.