Tell us about you!

Hi! My name is Courtenay, and I a 23-year-old graduate nurse (RN) at a large public tertiary hospital in Melbourne. When you can’t find me making mean cups of tea & coffee on my ward, you’ll find me at home with my dog Gibby and cat Chance, snuggled up on the couch watching Netflix (with snacks of course).

In my spare time, I volunteer as a youth leader & mentor at a local youth group on Friday nights and I also hang out with some of these teens from the group throughout the week. I also love doing weights at the gym and think it is super important to stay active out of work! (those endorphins feel really good after a tough day on the ward).

My journey to starting nursing?

I started off as a good old Hungry Jacks crew member for 4 years and then became a manager for another 3 years, then I headed into PCA work at a private hospital. Both jobs really helped shape me into the person I am today, and through these jobs I learnt how to be a more hospitable, compassionate and organised person.

Sneaky fact – I actually used to want to be a Veterinary Nurse (literally my whole life), I tried it out, started my studies and placement and decided I loved talking to people, and cuddling animals was more of a hobby…

Get a job as a PCA/AIN while studying nursing and turbocharge your nursing interviews. Read here

Where are you working now and in what area? 

I just recently completed my 1st rotation in my graduate year, where I worked on an acute surgical ward (I LOVED IT). In this 1st rotation I was mainly caring for postoperative patients having general surgery, urology, gynaecology, ENT and sometimes plastics and neurosurgery procedures. I also had the opportunity to help out in DOSA (Day of surgery admissions) and assist in Flexible Cystoscopy procedures!

Flexible Cystoscopies:

A flexible cystoscopy is a very quick (5-10min) procedure where the doctor will use a camera attached to a long flexible piece of tubing, which is attached to a monitor so they can look inside the patient’s bladder. This procedure could be necessary for someone noticing blood in their urine, difficulty to pass urine or irregularities in their normal toileting routine for some examples.

The nurse’s job in this procedure is to get all the tools ready for the doctor (using sterile technique), plug the camera into the monitor, hang up and assist with the administration of irrigation fluids and ensure all items are scanned properly and sent off to the sterilisation department once the procedure is done. Sometimes the doctor would also require the nurses help to remove a stent with a grasper during this procedure. And because these procedures are so fast, the nurse has to be very quick and careful with their sterile technique!

Picture from:

To answer the original question, I am now working in a general medical ward, specialising mainly in respiratory, endocrinology and renal medicine. It is quite different from surgical, but there is certainly a whole lot to learn in the next 4.5 months I am there for.

What do you carry on you during a shift?

We have just gone electronic at my hospital (Hallelujah!). So now all I carry on me is a pen, highlighter, tape, scissors, alcohol swabs, a whiteboard marker and an eye torch, which probably still seems like a lot, but you just never know when you might need these items!

What’s in your lunch box?

I always pack in heaps of fruit as it helps satisfy those sweet cravings you often get on shift! I also like to have nut mixes as they are easy to eat and keep you fuller for longer. As for lunch/ dinner, I normally try to have a mix of veggies, protein, healthy fats and carbs to keep me going throughout my shift and give my body what it needs.

FOOD TIP: For late – earlies, PREPARE FOOD FOR BOTH SHIFTS! The last thing you want to do after getting home after your late shift, and having to get up in less than 6 hours, is to prepare your food for the morning, so have it all ready to go!

Can you share some nightshift tips?

BRING SNACKS. Some nights you may not feel like eating, some nights you may consider eating the leftover snacks on the nursing station that someone left behind……

Make sure you remember to drink water, especially since you’ll probably sleep when you get home, it’s important to look after yourself and stay hydrated.

Sleep when you can, don’t force yourself to stay awake or get up at specific times, but just sleep when your body is telling you it needs it!

What’s 1 piece of advice for students you would give who are worried about starting a graduate year?

Don’t stress that you don’t know enough! You will honestly learn so much once you get thrown into the hustle of nursing life. You are never working by yourself, so use your resources! Whether it be another senior nurse, a nurse in charge, NUM or educators at the hospital!

What’s the biggest difference between student placement and working as a nurse?

You’re more autonomous, but you are still not “alone” as I said above. I couldn’t even tell you how many questions I ask a day, and yet someone is always happy to help or lead you in the right direction.

What’s your 5-year plan?

I love nursing, but nursing isn’t my life, and I want to make sure that I grow in my career but that I also grow in relationships and myself. I hope to just be happy, and as balanced in life as I can be.

I am considering doing some travelling with my nursing within the Northern Territory being somewhere I would love to go, but we will see!

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in your life so far?

One of the most memorable things I have ever done in my life would have to be a mission trip I did in Thailand. I got to volunteer at a leprosy hospital, and a couple of orphanages and hear amazing stories. It was absolutely life-changing.

How do you deal with challenging colleagues?

I don’t bite back. Spread joy, positivity and grace. You never know what is going on in someone’s world, including your colleagues.

Unless something is harmful towards you, another person or a patient, just let it go or have a conversation with that person.

Anything else?

  • Remember nursing is a 24/7 job, so take your breaks, look after yourself and just do the best you can.
  • Help your fellow nurses when you can, you’re a team!
  • Speak up! If you are worried about a patient, have questions, concerns or just don’t completely understand the situation, then ASK!