PEDESTRIAN.TV has partnered with CQUniversity to acknowledge our brave frontline healthcare workers.

The last 18 months have been anything but ordinary for many of us. But frontline workers such as nurses and doctors have experienced an incredibly crazy time during the pandemic.

For mum-of-two Jessica Birt, who graduated university after studying nursing in 2018, she felt lucky to have received the education she did with CQUniversity, as it prepared her for what was to come.

Jessica knew from age four that she wanted to become a nurse, but as she got older, life got in the way, and her dream was put on hold. Fast forward a few years, and Jessica says it was becoming a mum that made her realise she needed to show her daughters they can do anything they set their minds to.

“Being in the hospital at different times from giving birth or sitting up there with a sick child reignited my dream,” Jessica tells us. “I saw good nurses and some not so good nurses, and I wanted to make a difference by being one of the good ones.

“I wanted patients to know that their nurse really cared about them and would do all they could do. I wanted to show my kids that anyone (even a very busy mum!) can do anything, even study full time.”

Jessica enrolled in CQUniversity’s STEPS (Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies) bridging course before undertaking her nursing degree, which helped build her confidence after being away from studying for some time. The course provides a pathway for students who want to pursue degrees in nursing and paramedic science, engineering, psychology, teaching and many more.

We spoke to Jessica about how her studies helped her overcome the challenges of being a nurse during a global pandemic.

PEDESTRIAN.TV: You’ve been nursing for two years now. What type of nursing do you do, and what has been the most rewarding aspect of the job? 

Jessica Birt: I am currently the senior Registered Nurse and Covid vaccination nurse at a local GP. I worked there as an Assistant in Nursing while I was studying (I was offered a job after my placement in my second year), and returned after a grad year at the hospital. I have also recently completed my Graduate Certificate in Diabetes Education so am also working part-time with another diabetes educator to complete my hours to become credentialed.

The most rewarding part of my job is building relationships with my patients and joining them on a journey. From a journey of healing, of education and learning of a new diagnosis or even the journey of life as they complete their walk on this earth. I walk into work every day and love my job. And that is definitely rewarding.

PEDESTRIAN.TV: You studied via CQUniversity’s STEPS program. How did this bridging course help you achieve your goal of graduating?

Jessica Birt: I felt 110% more prepared for my uni studies than many others in my cohort and I put that down to the skills I learnt through the STEPS program. I felt more comfortable with essay writing, especially with referencing, felt more prepared for the expectations of the study load and felt more confident navigating the learning management systems. Many of the skills I value from my STEPS days are being taught to me now as I complete my masters!

PEDESTRIAN.TV: You’ve started nursing during a global pandemic. How did your uni course set you up to tackle such a difficult time?

Jessica Birt: My uni course provided me with a wonderful foundation to build upon. I still felt like I had imposter syndrome and I had much to learn, but when I jumped in and “started nursing” it was easy to see that all the foundation was there that I could easily build upon. Many little sayings or quirky tricks still come to me, and I find I am now passing them onto student nurses I now get the pleasure of working with.

PEDESTRIAN.TV: How did you overcome the challenges of studying with two young children?

Jessica Birt: Giving up was never allowed to enter my mind. I wanted to do this for me and my family. So, I broke down each week into what assignments were due. I had (and still do) a big calendar board and I wrote every assignment up and when it was due or when I needed it finished by. I put the kids to bed and then took myself to my study area and spent time focused on uni. Weekends I made for them. No uni is done on the weekends unless absolutely necessary.

PEDESTRIAN.TV: What advice do you have for anyone else wanting to study nursing?

Jessica Birt: Just DO IT! Enjoy every moment of it. Go in with an open mind because sometimes the things you did not think you would like you end up loving!

PEDESTRIAN.TV: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Jessica Birt: Hopefully finished with my masters and to be a great Credentialed Diabetes Educator working within a brilliant team to give the best care and self-management skills to our patients. And continuing to lead a strong team of nurses at my local GP and hopefully one day working at CQUniversity passing on my passion for nursing to the next class of future nurses!

Jessica is proof that it’s never too late to follow your passion and land that dream job. No matter how long you’ve been out of the game, there’s always a pathway to help you reach that destination.

Image: Scrubs