Becoming a nurse in Australia: Casey is helping and healing

Casey Dodd chose a career in nursing because she wanted to help and to heal. As a young mum of four children she had completed a Certificate III in Aged Care but wanted more. So, she applied to Charles Sturt University to study a Bachelor of Nursing1 – the first step to becoming a nurse in Australia.

“I had completed a Certificate III while I was raising my children and I thought, ‘why not take it further?’. I wanted to see how far I could go. I’ve always been interested in health. Even during the time I was studying I was working in disability support.”

Healthcare let Casey help people and build connections. Nursing, in particular, meant she could make a real difference – especially to First Nations people. 

“I feel nurses are one of the most important parts of a person’s health journey. They’re with you from start to finish. And as an First Nations person myself I see the healthcare issues First Nations people face. The gap in life expectancy and the lower health outcomes. I wanted to be a part of closing that gap for my own people.

“I love that I get to be part of people’s journeys. I work in dialysis, where I see the same patients repeatedly. That means I get to give continuity of care. Build rapport with them. Be part of their lives.

“There’s a very high First Nations population in the dialysis unit, because Aboriginal people are more prone to kidney diseases. So, in a sense, I’m lucky to be able to work with my own people.

“We still have a long way to go, though we’ve made some big changes that have impacted upon First Nations healthcare. We’re seeing a greater focus on First Nations health and a lot more person-centred care, where we’re working holistically. We look not just at the physical but the spiritual, cultural and emotional.”

Balancing study with life

So, how did Casey manage to juggle full-time study with raising four young children?

“In hindsight, I don’t know! It was a struggle and you do have to make sacrifices. But if you really want something you find ways to make it work. You can’t go into it thinking you’ll have the best of both worlds. It was worth it: my children are so proud of what I’ve achieved. And, our lives are better for it.”

Having graduated, Casey is now a registered nurse and is undertaking a new graduate program at Dubbo Health Service. She’s completed her first six-month rotation on the general medical ward and is in her second rotation, in the renal unit.

“When I first started studying I was a young, single mum – that didn’t make things any easier! But I felt that without study I wouldn’t have many prospects with employment. I’d thought the only way I was going to get there was to get some qualifications behind me.

“I chose to apply for university because, if I was making the decision to study, I wanted to be the best I could be. I knew it would be hard, but at the end of the day it would be worth it.

“I didn’t even know if I’d get into uni and didn’t have much confidence during the application process. I thought I wouldn’t get in and that I wasn’t qualified enough because the only previous certificate I had was a Cert III. But I was accepted and thought ‘guess I’m doing this!’”

Head shot of Casey Dodd who chose a career in nursing.

The Charles Sturt nursing experience

Studying with Charles Sturt opened up a world of possibilities for Casey. 

“My goal was to build clinical knowledge and skills, in the hope that I could one day make a difference for First Nations people. But something else I really enjoyed about Charles Sturt was that I experienced so many different areas of healthcare. [I realised] that in becoming a nurse in Australia, my future could hold so many different prospects and I’m definitely open to them all.

“And Charles Sturt was great, especially when it came to work placements. It’s very competitive for spots in Dubbo. When I put forward ideas, my preferences, of what would work for me and my children, they were happy to accommodate that.”

For Casey, that flexibility was vital because the Bachelor of Nursing involved more than 800 hours of clinical placement. (After all, getting hands-on is what we do at Charles Sturt).

During her three years of study, Casey was also supported by two Charles Sturt grants. They were, she said, a tremendous help.

“I got to study without having to worry about rent and bills for a little while. That was amazing because I didn’t have to try and work as well as study. Applying was really simple and the First Nations student officer helped me out when I needed anything.”

Becoming a nurse in Australia: Casey’s tips

Thinking of heading to Charles Sturt to get a qualification and land your dream job? Casey offers some great advice.

“My best tip for someone starting university or thinking about starting would be to just keep moving forward. Don’t give up. There are definitely plenty of times that will test your motivation and your will to keep going, but it does get better if you stick it out. It’s so worthwhile in the end.

“Charles Sturt University has helped my self-worth in the sense that I’ve done something I never saw myself doing. I’ve proven wrong anyone who ever doubted my abilities. The hard work I’ve put in has given me more passion to be good in my chosen career.

“I’m a pretty ambitious person and I find studying enjoyable. It’s very stimulating. So, even now, after becoming a nurse in Australia and with a career in nursing, I definitely want to do some postgraduate study.”

Hear more from Casey and her nursing colleagues about the Bachelor of Nursing at Charles Sturt in Dubbo.

Create a world worth living in

What does a better world look like to you? Does it mean finding a cure for illnesses, improving health and education, developing innovative technologies? Or, like Casey, is it about having an impact in your local community and building connections with people through Charles Sturt University’s Bachelor of Nursing?

If you’ve ever wanted to make a difference in a career in nursing, you can with us. Follow your heart, get qualified and land a job you’ll love with Charles Sturt University. Let’s get to work!

1Cricos: 0101019, 010599C