Meet Nursing Student Olivia Morgan! She is just about to finish her nursing degree at Deakin University. She has also been working during Covid19 and her final year as a RUSON (Registered Undergraduate Student of Nursing) at Monash Health within the Emergency Department. (Monash Health have approved the following article).

Read about Olivia’s experience as an Emergency Department RUSON. Read other student articles HERE.

Having always found the human body fascinating and it’s ability to heal, she was easer to learn more. After some personal experiences with family recieving care, Olivia came to the realisation that she wanted to be a nurse, after originally considering medicine. She was drawn in by the importance of providing comfort to people during thier worst moments and helping during emergencies. de clinical care at the bedside.

If i can help someone who may be terrified of hospitals feel slightly more at ease, then I think I will feel fulfilled

Olivia Morgan
nursing student
What does being a nurse mean to you?

To be a nurse is to be brave and confident in your own abilities. It is to be a beacon of light during someone’s darkest days. Nursing isn’t just about the medical side of things which include medications, dressings and assisting in procedures. Nursing is about being there for your patients and listening to them in order to help make their time in hospital just that little bit less scary.

Study & Assignments

Typical week?

I have been super lucky with my timetable for the last few years and have managed to get most of my classes falling on 2 days a week. This will usually include one full day and one-half day which is perfect for working other commitments around uni. Due to the added length of time needed to complete a clinical placement in a semester, the semester classes only go for 7 weeks so the year flies by and then you get to solidify everything you’ve learnt during the semester on placement!

What do you wish you knew before?

I think my biggest shock is how independent you are at uni. To be completely honest, uni will be as good as you want it to be, but you need to get involved. Start conversations, go to classes, find your people and uni will be fantastic. I also think I was a bit naïve with the toll that placement can have on you. It is hard having to take the time off work and sometimes you won’t know your roster for placement until just before you start but overloading yourself will just mean you don’t get to make the most out of the opportunity’s placement gives you.

Once you’re in the swing of placements, those 5:45 am wake ups are a breeze, but when it’s Week 1 and you haven’t got up that early since the placement the semester before, it will be hard. Give yourself time to adjust, sleep lots, make sure you’re drinking enough water, and as tempting as the café downstairs may be, try and have a nice healthy lunch or dinner ready for your break. My other big tip for studying is don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.

Emailing your teachers after class or sticking back for 5 minutes can change your whole experience at uni. It took me a while to realise literally no one cares if you ask 5 questions about something because chances are, at least half the class have the exact same questions. It has made my understanding of the content so much more thorough and has made uni a whole lot more enjoyable.

What has surprised you?

I think the thing that surprised me the most about studying nursing is how much of support the friends you make become. It can be really hard to go home after a full-on day at placement and talk to people that don’t really understand what you’re saying, but when you have a support network of other nursing students, you are all experiencing and learning the same thing and those friendships or support networks have become so important to me. I didn’t know that I would become as close to my fellow students as I have, but I’m so lucky I’ve met these people and can’t wait to start our careers together.

Mistakes you’ve made?

Like I said before, I think you go into uni thinking you go to class, sit and listen, and then go home and figure out what you just learnt. That’s what I thought anyway in the first year. Make the most of the expertise of the faculty. Ask them the questions or email them after class. Use that support because at the end of the day, as a nurse, you’re dealing with people’s lives.

Would you want a nurse to look after your family who didn’t really get how to calculate medications properly? So, ask the questions! Practice and use the support you have around you. When you’re on placement, ask the nurses the questions too. They’re the experts and we are so lucky to have the opportunity to follow them, so use that! Don’t be afraid of asking a silly question, cause that question may make the difference in how you care for someone one day.

Tips for university assignments?

Start early and plan!!! When I say early, I don’t mean 2 months in advance. I usually like to have opened and read the assignment guide in detail the month before its due. Then 2-3 weeks before start planning it. What are your topics going to be? How many references are you wanting? What’s the stance you are taking?

Then 1-2 weeks before it’s due, start writing. Don’t try to do it all in 1 day, you’ll burn out. Give yourself a goal for every day, 200-500 words. It might take 4 days, it may take 6 days. Some days it might come super easy to you and you write 1000 words. But giving yourself that time means those days when it’s really hard, you just have to write a paragraph or 2 then can stop. I also can’t stress enough how important it is to proof your assignment. Read it aloud so you can hear the grammar errors. It helps so much!

What subjects have you had?

Surprising enough to me, one of my favourite classes has also been the class I was most apprehensive about. My mental health subject opened my eyes to a whole other section of nursing that I hadn’t even considered. I learnt so much about what it means to be a nurse through that subject and made me realise I had a passion for psychology.

My most favourite subject, however, would have to be the child and adolescent health subject. Learning about paediatric nursing affirmed to me just how much that is what I want to do with my career. Working and listening to families whilst also having to adapt your own nursing skills to the situation and age of the child is something that I think would be challenging and exceptionally interesting, which is why I loved that subject so much.

The great thing about nursing at Deakin is as often as they can, your seminars and simulation follow each other on the same day. This meant I could sit in a class and learn about the theory behind the assessment for a few hours before then going to a simulation and practising that assessment on a mannequin. There is usually a subject each semester that will follow that structure, plus a few other classes where you just have a seminar.

What would make your studies better?

In all honesty, I’ve had a really great time studying so far. If COVID could stay away so I don’t have to do online uni again that would be great, but apart from that, I really love uni. I love Deakin and its facilities and faculty. I love the friends I’ve made and although sometimes you may dread having to take 5 weeks off paid work and do some late-early shifts or nights and not be paid, placement is amazing. I really can’t complain at all.


Where have you had placements?

I’ve had a really good mix of placements so far. I’ve been to Monash, The Alfred, Jessie McPherson and Lorne District Hospital just to name a few. I was able to do my mental health placement at The Alfred which was incredible and a huge learning experience. The other standout placement was on a cardiac ward at Jessie McPherson too! I didn’t think cardiac nursing was a passion of mine, but I loved every day on that ward and am now completely fascinated by the heart!

Being able to still do placement during a pandemic was a very unique experience. I was placed on a SCOVID ward so I quickly learned about the importance of PPE and also how much of a strain that can be. It was pretty overwhelming watching the pandemic unfold whilst also working on a ward where we potentially had up to 30 patients that could’ve been COVID positive. That placement taught me more about time management and teamwork than any other experience I’ve had so far.

What are some interesting things you’ve seen?

In one of my placements, I was actually present and able to participate in a code blue. The patient had an AAA, and we gave the patient CPR. Whilst extremely confronting and it’s fair to say, overwhelming, I was able to scribe and participate in CPR which is probably some of the most amazing and terrifying learning I’ve ever done. In the cardiac ward, I was able to care for a lot of patients post major heart surgery with all sorts of lines and different wound dressings which were incredibly interesting. 

Main challenges during placements?

Nursing can be intense. Sometimes people will pass away or sometimes you’ll experience a patient who is taking out their frustrations on you. You will get physically and mentally exhausted. Use the support you have around you. Talk to the educators, your friends, family. On your days off, spend them doing the things that make you feel good. Go for a run and clear your head or go to the beach and just relax.

I think I feel a bit guilty sometimes that on my days off, I don’t feel like socialising with friends or going to my part-time job, but you have to listen to your body. I think it’s important to remember that placement is an intense snapshot into what the life and routine of a nurse is and doing that for 2-5 weeks whilst trying to incorporate your own normal routine can be exhausting and overwhelming. Do what you can to make the most of your placement and use your days off to relax and recharge.

Where do you want to work?

Every single department I’ve done a placement in, I end up thinking that’s where I want to be. I love the unpredictability of the ED, I love the patients in paediatrics, I love the anatomy of cardiac nursing and I love the intensity of ICU or theatre. I can’t tell you where I want to specialise because there is so much about nursing I don’t know and haven’t experienced yet. What I can tell you is that I cannot wait to better myself as a nurse and try many different areas until I’ve found the section of nursing I want to stay in.

Final Advice

Advice you’d give to future students?

Get your foot in the door! The best decision I have made is getting a job relevant to my career. Working as a RUSON means that I can become comfortable in some areas of nursing (such as ADLs) so that when I begin my grad year, that’s one less thing I need to worry about learning how to do. It has also meant that I’ve almost felt like I have been on placement for the last 5 months, constantly getting to observe procedures or ask questions to nurses and think critically about the patients I’m helping.

It’s been the best thing I’ve done and has made me so eager to start and finish this year so I can be a nurse! My other advice would be to make sure you’re on top of your work, don’t leave studying 7 weeks of content into 5 days before the exam because while it may allow you to pass the exam, you won’t retain any of the information in the long run. Also, make yourself familiar with resources such as The Nurse Break which gives you access to incredible resources and offers such amazing advice from such amazing nurses.

Olivia has written about her experiences as a RUSON in this article HERE