Meet Louise Nelson.

I am a 54-year-old woman who has been an enrolled nurse for 16 years and in this time, I have worked in aged care, briefly in an acute hospital and in my current position I have been working in rehabilitation for almost 14 years. I live in the Yarra Valley which is in the outer East of Melbourne, Victoria with my partner and our gorgeous cat ‘Princess’. I have 2 adult children who are 23 and 25 years old.

I would like to specialise in Palliative care once qualified as I see it as a privilege to provide care for those who are transitioning from this life into the next. I had always held dreams of becoming a registered nurse but lacked the confidence to do so much earlier.

Pursuing a dream

Once my children had finished high school and were moving into adulthood and living their own lives, I investigated the possibility of pursuing my dream. I began my degree at CDU for one semester and after realising it would be too costly to travel interstate every year for practical assessments, I transferred to Federation University 2 1/2 years ago, studying as an online mature aged student. I have found that although I am normally the oldest on placements and on-campus when attending practical sessions, I am still able to interact with students who are much younger than me. I have yet to feel intimidated and see myself as a bit of a ‘mother-figure’.

A typical study week

A typical study week for me normally entails working on the weekly module content of each subject, and listening/watching lectures/tutorials etc. At the start of each semester, I set up a simple planner for assignments, and colour code them according to when they are due. I also buy an A4 exercise book (yeah, I’m old school) for each subject to write down any notes from the modules or tutorials that I think are beneficial.

One thing I have learned since starting my degree is that it is only necessary to take notes in a minimal way, especially for the large content subjects such as anatomy and physiology, and pathophysiology. Too many notes can lead to overload and confusion, and I found I was unable to remember the important information when doing this.

Assignment Tips

My tip for those who struggle with assignments is to plan and prioritize. Start them as early as possible, clarify anything you don’t understand with your lecturers, (that’s what they are there for), use all the assistance the university has on offer for students and assignments (there are more than you think), and brainstorm with your peers, it can really help.


The main challenge that I have faced over almost two years of my degree is COVID 19 and all the restrictions and challenges involved. This has been from placements being cancelled, practical labs being cancelled and re-scheduled 4 times due to lockdowns, psychological stress due to the prospect of the hospital I work at being closed last year because elective surgery was ceased, and financial stress with my partner being out of work or working on and off for the best part of the pandemic.

There were times when I didn’t think I could continue my studies as the strain of everything seemed overwhelming. My passion for nursing and my burning desire to become a registered nurse is what kept me going through the tears, screaming and yelling, the ‘I cant’s” and the times where I thought I just couldn’t do it anymore. Realistically, that is what has affected my studies over anything else for the best part of my degree so far.


As far as placement goes, I have only attended two so far. The first was aged care for two weeks where I met and bonded with two other students who I now classify as friends, and I was also able to meet and care for some amazing and interesting residents. My second placement was three weeks at a rehabilitation hospital. This was very busy and stressful at times, however, I found again that the patients I met and cared for were so interesting and wonderful, with complex medical histories that enabled me to consolidate my learning and participate in many clinical interventions I had not previously had experience with.

The light

As I enjoy my much needed semester break and ponder getting through my third and final year combined with 15 weeks of outstanding placement, I know that after the past almost 2 years of being able to navigate through COVID, work, the odd family drama, doubting myself at times and everything else that goes with doing “life”, I can now see the light, and knowing that I will complete my degree, graduate and become the registered nurse I always dreamed of being is the greatest thing aside from having my children, that I will accomplish in my life so far.