Behind the scrubs: from hospital volunteer to cardiothoracic nurse

November 28, 2023

From hospital volunteer to CCU nurse, RN5 Joules shares her wisdom and insights; her story of study and work challenges, what keeps her motivated, and how care and compassion to her core, along with research, good networking, and mindset (oh! and uPaged!), means you can always find a great paying nursing job. 

So Joules, tell us … why did you choose nursing as a career?

I chose nursing as a career to help people. Caring is my strength and I wanted to make the most of this in my job.

Did you always want to be a nurse?

No! I actually wanted to be a scientist when I was younger. As I grew older, it was by accident that I realised that I wanted to be a nurse.
Growing up, I had an affinity for caring for people. It made me feel good. I volunteered at a hospital when I was in university, and I quickly realised that this was where I wanted to be: in a hospital setting and part of a professional team.

When and where did you do nursing training?

I studied at UTS (University of Technology Sydney) and I graduated in 2019.

What was the best thing about your training?

The best thing was that I got to study with friends who were like-minded and that was really motivating for me.

What was the worst thing about it?

Doing assignments and placements at the same time! Like most, I also had to juggle my life duties such as working to pay for rent. It was one of the most stressful times of my life.

What specialty did you start your career in?

I started out in the Cardiothoracic ward.

Did that change? If so, why? Was the change for the best?

Yes, it changed as the hospital did not give me a placement in the ward due to high competition. And yes; it was for the best as I am now in a place that gives me flexibility.

What is a common myth about your job or field of expertise?

That nurses are not paid enough. With thorough research, good networking and mindset, you can find a nursing job with great pay.

Which has been your best nursing job ever, and why?

That would be my CCU job now. I feel challenged; I learn a lot; I have great colleagues and great flexibility.

Tell us about your favourite / most memorable patient?

My most favourite patient was a patient who was always thankful for every nurse’s service. She would offer everyone chocolates. She was one of the sickest patients on the ward but she always remained positive.

What do you love about being a nurse?

I love that I can care for people through being a nurse. The nursing job is flexible! You won’t have to study a degree to change specialties.

What is your proudest nursing moment?

That would be when I detected a patient who was deteriorating (a patient who had a drop in GCS) and was missed by the morning staff. The patient was not responsive and I found that his creatinine was high. I informed the doctor, as we gave IVF straight away. The patient became alert during that evening.

What do you like least about your nursing job?

The politics!

What gives you the ‘ick’? What is your biggest nursing pet peeve?

When there is a lot of negative gossip about staff members as I feel that rips the team apart.
I can’t pinpoint one event but the scariest thing for me, and I suspect for every new nurse, is having a patient pass away.

If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

That I am caring, passionate and hardworking.

What’s an “insult” you’ve received that you’re proud of?

That I am quiet. I am proud that I can be sensitive towards my patients and listen to them without talking over them. Besides, being quiet is a good thing when it comes to night shifts so patients can sleep.🙂

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?

Oh that was from a patient who dedicated her feedback towards me specifically. It was a big paragraph and it was printed out and placed on the wall in my unit. I felt so proud of myself.

What is your advice for nurses considering a career pathway like yours? What is your top tip for someone wanting to do the same?

It’s okay to change nursing specialties. Try as many nursing positions as you can until you find the right one. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions!

In your opinion, what is the most important personality trait/strength someone would need to work in your industry/be successful in your job?

Be adaptable, positive, and resilient!

What’s one thing about your job/field of expertise that almost no one agrees with you about?

That you don’t have to stick to one nursing job. It’s your life. Do what makes you happy.

What is something about you that your nursing colleagues don’t know?

If I don’t like someone, I don’t let them in my life.

What is your side hustle / other job / passion outside of nursing / life like outside of nursing …?

I like shopping & skincare.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your nursing job?

Having to work with difficult people and ‘bullies.’

What’s the single thing that annoys you most that you see other nurses do?

Power tripping.

What’s the best nursing advice you have ever been given? Who gave it to you and why? What else was going on at the time that prompted the advice?

Be careful with who you share your information with. Not everyone can be trusted. A senior nurse told me this. Her experience prompted this and I was new to nursing.

How do you de-stress from the juggle of everything you do?

Netflix, hiking 🥾 , chatting to friends 💬, movies, walking, shopping 🛍️ and chores 🤣

If you could go back and give your 18-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Trust your instincts!

What underrated tool(s) are indispensable for your job?

Micropore tape & the flashlight on your phone.

If you could change one thing in nursing, what would it be?

Eliminate bullies

Finish this sentence: If I could start over again, I would …

Go to another public hospital.
Q: Who has been your most important professional mentor?
A: My clinical nurse educator at my new grad rotation.
Q: Who or what keeps you motivated?
A: Bills and travel.
Q:: What made you laugh today?
A: Nothing? Can’t think of anything.
Q:: Favourite holiday destination?
A: Philippines
Q: Best place you have ever worked (even if it was for just one shift)?
A: Chatswood Private Hospital
Q: What’s the single most important trait you think a nurse should have?
A: Adaptability
Q: What’s one lesson your job has taught you that you think everyone should learn at some point in their life?
A: Don’t let someone put you down. You are worth it. Every person has something special that they don’t know.
Q: What’s the quote you live by?

A: Live every day like it’s your last

Want more? Check out the Behind the Scrubs archive

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