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What it’s really like to be a nurse


Students in ECU nursing simulation suite
ECU’s nursing wards on the Joondalup Campus.

If you want a career which offers strong employment prospects and tremendous job satisfaction, then perhaps nursing is for you?

What does a nurse do?

Many people tend to picture nurses working in a hospital.

And many of them do, specialising in a range of areas from emergency to paediatrics to geriatric nursing. But they can also work in clinics, schools, and aged care homes.

No matter where they work, a nurse’s role is to provide care. ECU’s Director of Undergraduate Nursing Fiona Foxall says it’s a career which is anything but dull.

“There are so many facets to nursing and you can go into so many different areas. You are essentially assisting ill people and ensuring they can lead an independent life again,” she says.

“Duties involved can be quite wide ranging. One minute you can help someone to sit in a chair, the next you are saving someone’s life, it is very diverse.”

Co-op Cafe, ECU Bunbury Cafe
Nursing is also offered at the South West Campus in Bunbury.

A job for life?

People are living longer and so require more health services. In addition, a recent report in the Medical Journal of Australia shows that that 50 per cent of nurses in Australia are currently baby boomers and will be retiring soon.

It all means that more nurses are needed to enter the profession.

“A lot of people want to go into critical care areas or emergency as you are really at the sharp end of nursing, but equally as popular is nurses who work in the community in GP surgeries or with the elderly,” Mrs Foxall says.

“Of course, you don’t have to stay in nursing. Some people use this course to springboard into other areas such as research management or even education.”

ECU also offers a degree course where those who’ve been nurses overseas can transfer their skills so they can gain registered nurse status here in Australia.

Improving peoples’ lives

ECU’s Bachelor of Science (Nursing) course is for those who want to make a positive difference.

It would suit someone who is compassionate, a good communicator and enjoys problem solving.

Dr Caroline Veafas is a Senior Lecturer with ECU’s School of Nursing and Midwifery. She says care of a patient is the number one priority.

“I would go so far as to say 80 per cent of this role involves communication. You need to be both physically and mentally fit as you may be on your feet and moving patients around,” Dr Veafas explains.

“Around 50 per cent of our students are mature age and they’ve decided to retrain.

“A lot of the course can be studied online, which many people don’t realise. About a fifth of our students learn remotely.”

New challenges and opportunities

Health care is one of the largest industries in the world. Advances in medical science, new technologies and new medications requires nurses to be adaptive and understand increasingly complex treatments.

“Our Fidelity Unit at ECU is a simulated real-life ward, with mannequins which we can program so students have to react to certain patient scenarios,” Dr Veafas says.

“These mannequins offer students the opportunity to practise skills before they take them out into real life.”

ECU Nursing graduate, Rocheal-Lee Lock
Rocheal-Lee Lock

A diverse career with lots of possibilities

Rocheal-Lee Lock is an ECU graduate who decided to study nursing after taking time out to have children.

“I wanted to be a nurse since I was 16 after I helped deliver my aunt’s baby, so that just set the wheels in motion,” she says.

“I’ve raised a family and waited for the right time and eventually enrolled as a mature age student.

“My lecturers and tutors were the best of the best – I was confident in their ability because they were working in the industry and were in touch with what nursing is currently like.”

Want to learn more?

For more information about a career in this area, check out ECU’s Bachelor of Science (Nursing) course webpage.

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