Nursing and Me: Shirley’s Story


I feel a bit silly writing a blog about myself as I have been writing for Nurse Uncut already for a little while. But, it dawned on me that many of you probably don’t know my background. And so, this will give you a little background knowledge into who I am.

031 (800x600)My entry into nursing was not a conventional one. When I finished high school, I started a Bachelor Degree in Applied Science and a Masters in Chiropractic at Macquarie University. After 2 years, and a nasty break up with my boyfriend of 4 years who happened to be in the same course and all of my tutes and classes, I decided I no longer wanted to study this double degree. So, what did I do? I did what every 19yr old does, I took a gap year worked in retail and partied hard! Made money for a year and had nothing to show for it, except nice new clothes, shoes and an indulgent trip to Byron with my girl friends (lol).

As I was coming towards the end of my year off, I realised (with my parents gentle reminding, no nagging….) that I had to decide what I was going to do for the rest of my life. So, I thought: “OMG! What was I going to do?”

Well, I knew I wanted to do something health care related. But, there was no way they would have accepted me into medicine (I’m not smart enough), maybe physio? Social working? Hmmm… I wanted something that would let me travel the world, meet heaps of hot interns aspiring to be doctors, would be flexible…. Well, my friends and I always joked that if we failed our HSC we would do nursing…  actually nursing doesn’t sound too bad… Yup I am going to do it, I’ll do a bachelor of nursing!

When I unveiled my aspiration to become a nurse (just like the ones on  my favourite TV show ER), everyone I knew tried to talk me out of it. My parents and their friends tried to alert me to the fact that I was not suited to be a nurse. No Jewish girls become nurses; they become lawyers, doctors, psychologists, teachers, but not nurses. They couldn’t see me, this prissy girl cleaning up after people, let alone bodily fluids and waste. Rotational rosters? There was no way I would survive that, not to mention, the exceptionally hard and demanding work. Well, I was going to prove them wrong! So, I enrolled and got accepted into the Bachelor of Nursing, midwifery and health degree at UTS.

From the moment I started the course, I loved it!

I loved UTS, I loved the lecturers and not to mention, the awesome friends I had made. But, most of all, I loved the prac work on the wards (despite some of the crappy RNs I was buddied with that rolled their eyes and used you as a slave for the day).

I felt just like the nurses portrayed on the TV. I was going to be the next Florence Nightingale. I was going to have every patient and young doctor fall in love with me. I was going to get involved in people’s lives (like on TV).

Of course, it wasn’t like that in reality. But, nevertheless,  I really enjoyed it. I was in my element. I felt like I belonged here and things just came naturally. A calling, you might say.

I decided in my 1st semester at Uni that I should probably get a part time job in a nursing home as an AIN and so I did. I found a beautiful women’s only boutique home in Roseville and worked there throughout my degree. It was there that I fell in love with the elderly — I had 47 grandmothers! I would spend time after my shift ended just talking to them about their very interesting lives. I found that you never trust an old person, as they were sneaky, and probably naughtier than I could ever be! They had seen and done it all. The lives that they had led were so interesting and the stories they had were amazing.

As my time at uni was coming to an end, and I was deciding which hospital I was going to do my new grad program with, the DON at the facility offered me a job, full time with 2nd yr out pay. This was very tempting but I was concerned that I would miss out on doing a new grad placement, and I would miss out on learning many skills. She assured me that I would not lose any skills. In fact, I would use more skills there than in any other field (except in emergency), and she would enrol me in a new grad program with the aged care career pathways.

So, after thinking long and hard, I took the job. I completed my new grad program. In fact, I was the first to go from an AIN to and RN in the compan,y and I started to work full time with the elderly. Despite all the horizontal violence I got from a few of the older RNs, I pushed through and refined my skills in wound management and palliative care. I transferred to different homes within the company to broaden my horizons a bit and nurse in different homes.

I was then asked to do a diploma of management by the company, as they wanted me to step up and become a manager, and they would pay for it. I agreed and did that.

Four years after graduating, I found myself working as a DDON. They also sent me to an assessor’s course, enabling me to perform internal audits and peer reviews within the company to help with quality assurance. I wanted to change the face and stigma of nursing homes. I was going to make sure that the elderly get the very best of care (after all they deserve it) — that they get spend their final days doing exactly what they choose to do. Just because they are in a home doesn’t mean they don’t get a life!

Eight years later, this is exactly what I do: I ensure that the elderly in my home and other homes within the company have a really good quality of life, that the homes meet legislation and provide good quality of care, no… the best quality of care.

Currently, I am on maternity leave looking after my 2 beautiful girls: 21months and 6 months — eager to dabble in the blogging world, and looking forwards to making new friends though the uncut chat/ blog channels :)The rest, as they say, is history.


  1. it happened to me too I was discouraged by family to not do nursing with the standard comment of “Why would you be a nurse? They work so hard and the pay is so terrible”
    Well, any nurse would know, you don’t do nursing for money (well not primarily) we do it because we care and because we want to be able to make a difference.
    It sounds like you have been able to do just that which is great!

  2. what an upbeat story! You sound as if you have really found your niche – and I also suspect that your energy, enthusiasm and upbeat way of viewing the world will help you to continue to achieve all those career goals you dream of it. Good luck Shoils!

  3. Things don’t change I have been nursing since 1973 and when I told my family that I wanted to become a nurse, was told I was to soft. What a laugh, if we weren’t kind and soft we wouldn’t have the compassion and caring that is needed in this profession. I have seen many changes and still have a passion for learning. Even though I am thinking of retiring, I still can’t help looking at different courses. LOL.
    Oh well it’s good to see you young people still have that passion. The most enjoyable part of my job at present is seeing the new nurses and midwives coming through with fresh ideas and enthusiasm. Keep it up people.


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