Kristie Smith, Nursing Practice (Emergency) student

Student's motto: "Short-term sacrifice, long-term goals"

By Serpil Senelmis

Kristie Smith, 2018 student of the online Graduate Certificate in Nursing Practice (Emergency) and Registered Nurse

Kristie Smith has “always been strongly career driven.” The 27-year-old New Zealander crammed what she could into a suitcase in 2015 and moved across the ditch for a new life and to “chase a change in career direction.”

Having worked as a Registered Nurse in her homeland for almost four years, Ms Smith “decided to solely focus on Paediatrics in an emergency department and to move to Australia for the opportunities available in this specialised field.”

Despite knowing very little about her neighbours across the Tasman Sea, and even less about its healthcare system, Ms Smith took the plunge regardless and found herself living and working in a small rural hospital in Queensland. She describes her first 10 months of living in Australia as “an eye-opening, educational and unique experience.”

While career progression and job satisfaction has been top-of-mind for Ms Smith for many years, “upskilling” has been the key component “towards achieving (her) career goals.” Remaining one-eyed in this pursuit, the ambitious kiwi is currently studying a Graduate Certificate in Nursing Practice (Emergency) at the University of Melbourne (UoM) and she says “she’s never hesitated in paying the cost of furthering (her) studies.”

“I believe the return on my investment will not only be of benefit to my future and career satisfaction, but also to the patients I care for and employers I work for during my career.”

“I plan to eventually use my knowledge, skills and experience gained through studying at UoM to educate others, improve health outcomes for the population and maximise the effectiveness of resource utilisation in healthcare,” she outlines.

Having relocated to Melbourne, and now working for a “reputable, fantastic and supportive employer” Ms Smith says she is “motivated and driven to learn and develop – being surrounded by extremely knowledgeable and experienced colleagues.”

Drawing inspiration from her current work environment, Ms Smith says she enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Nursing Practice (Emergency) and specifically the online Applied Pathophysiology subject as she “wanted to push (herself) to achieve an understanding of the concepts and theory to the highest level and best of (her) ability, in order to be able to effectively and correctly apply the learning to clinical practice.”

“I wanted to gain a better understanding of patient care in an emergency department for optimal patient health outcomes,” she explains.

The go-getting student is already reaping the benefits from her studies and has “discovered great value and enjoyment when caring for patients.”

“With the new found in-depth knowledge that I gained throughout the online Applied Pathophysiology subject, I am better able to understand the pathophysiological processes occurring and specific care needs to achieve better patient health outcomes,” she elaborates.

“I have gained a better understanding of the reasoning behind many interventions and the management of patients and this has helped with critiquing practice and boosting my confidence in providing evidence-based emergency care,” she adds.

Being able to learn in an online environment has been invaluable for Ms Smith, a shift worker “with an ever-changing, rotating roster.” Ms Smith says, “The face-to-face teaching style or a set-class timetable is often difficult and unachievable with shift work.”

“Online learning allows not only for flexibility in regard to individual schedules, but also provides a variety of teaching methods which caters to an individual’s preferred optimal style of learning. Webinars, recorded relevant videos, lecture notes and readings to name a few examples.”

The quality of the UoM online learning has exceeded Ms Smith’s expectations too. She says, she “found the online learning environment easy to navigate, methodically structured, organised with good flow, relevant and informative.”

“I was particularly impressed with the variety of resources provided for learning, such as specific readings from textbooks or journal articles relevant to each particular topic or component of the subject. And Student Services provided easy access to these resources to utilise at any time,” she explains.

Ms Smith found the online practice quizzes particularly energising.

“The online practice quizzes which are part of the online Applied Pathophysiology subject helped to ensure I was on the right track each week and guide my learning requirements.”

Equally, Ms Smith discovered the approach of the academic and teaching staff was uplifting.

“The passion, enthusiasm and dedication for what they are teaching and the encouragement they provide personally motivated me to put equal effort, time and energy into the subject. I wanted to gain the most out of the subject from the experienced and knowledgeable teaching staff.”

“The online teaching experts or course coordinators have been helpful, supportive, thorough and very responsive throughout the subject’s duration,” Ms Smith enthuses.

Unlike traditional methods of learning, Ms Smith discovered that “online learning requires self-motivation, personal accountability and drive – which can be a challenging aspect.”

“There is no role call to check you've attended the lecture or watched the video provided. While challenging, it is also extremely rewarding as you complete aspects of the course successfully, knowing you've put in the time and effort required and are working towards something you have set out to achieve,” she adds.

Ms Smith’s study motto is straightforward – "Short term sacrifice, long term goals."

Having already gained professionally from studying the Applied Pathophysiology subject herself, Ms Smith says, “If I was approached by someone thinking of enrolling in the subject, I would without a doubt encourage them to do so.”

“It is an intense eight weeks, but the knowledge gained and subsequent improved confidence in your practice to advance patient care is invaluable, and can be utilised in many fields or clinical settings.”

Learn more about the Graduate Certificate in Nursing Practice (Emergency).

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