Meet third year nursing student Ethan

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Tell us about yourself and how you got into nursing

Well, It’s kind of a funny story. I’m Ethan Reynolds the third brother out of four and son of a carer and a psychologist and current third-year nursing student at Murdoch University in Mandurah, Western Australia. My nursing journey began on an unsuspecting Saturday laying on the couch with my then-girlfriend now fiancé Megan. At the time I was studying film at another university, going through the paces, writing, and directing short films, playing mediocre guitar in local Perth bands, and frankly wasting away in a shared house in the dredges of suburban Perth.

Ethan & his Fiance Megan

However, that fateful night Megan and I decided to put on the medical comedy Scrubs and for some reason, I really connected with the characters especially Nurse Carla so off a whim I looked into nursing and that was it. By the end of the week, I had dropped out of film and used the credit point’s I’d acquired up to that point and began my journey at Murdoch. Yes, I know, not the usual inspirational story but hey! We are all on our own journey, mine just involves the hilarious work of Bill Lawrence.

I’m currently the President of the Murdoch University Nursing Society, a student-run society that aims to enhance the experience of nursing students by running professional and social events that provide students with the opportunity to engage with industry professionals and increase their employability while building their networks and making friendships.

Some of the most important skills often overlooked are emotional intelligence, compassion, and empathy.

Study & Assignments

What are some of the classes you have had?

I’m currently in my third and final year so I have almost done all the required units and if I would have to pick a favourite it would be the complex care units Murdoch offers which consists of case-based weekly workshops where we are given a series of patient’s in groups and are tasked to care for them over the course of the semester.

What’s your advice to those who haven’t started nursing out of high school?

I’m definitely not mature however I did begin nursing later in life at the age of 23. Before that I worked in a multitude of seemly random industries including the building industry as a concreter and tiler, the hospitality industry as possibly the slowest kitchen hand and cook on the planet and the retail industry as a shoe salesman.

My advice to mature age students is to always remember that everyone is on your own journey don’t compare yourself to the fresh eager 18 years old’s straight out of high school with what appears to be endless amounts of energy or even other mature age students such as the ‘super mums’ we all know the ones, the mothers who are getting nothing but high distinctions all while handling multiple kids, a husband and a part-time job. We all learn in different ways, handle stress differently and have different university experiences. Concentrate on yourself and your own journey.  

What is a typical week like?

My current week is composed of 3 lectures, 2 tutorials and 3 online collaborative sessions. I’m currently attending university from Monday to Wednesday from 08:00 to 14:30. I also conduct a weekly meeting with the Murdoch Nursing Society every Friday over Skype. Each unit I am currently undertaking is composed of a tutorial on campus, a laboratory, and an online collaborative session with our unit coordinator.

What tips do you have for future students struggling with assignments?

My best tip is to get off to a good start. A week out from beginning your semester go over each unit you are about to undertake, create a weekly checklist, that way you can cross of each item weekly. It gives you something visual that you can have in your room and study that lets you know that you’re on track. It also feels good when you tick off all those items at the end of each semester.

What are some mistakes you have made that you suggest others try avoid?

Skipping class and going fishing with my friend from university who will remain anonymous (His name may begin with M and end with arco). 


Where have you had some of your placements?

So far, my placements have consisted of a 3-week stint at an aged care home where I learnt the bread and butter of nursing, wiping bottoms, taking vital signs and most importantly looking, listening and learning from all the wonderful elderly patients. In my next rotation, the intensity and responsibility sky-rocketed, 3 weeks on a neurological ward in one of the biggest hospitals in Perth. ECGS, countless neurological observations, MET calls, code strokes and my own patient load.

Something that I will never forget from that placement was having to care for a patient diagnosed with Toxic epidermal necrolysis due to an adverse drug reaction. The fear and pain on the patient’s face were something I will always remember, going home that day caused me to hug my loved one’s a little tighter than usual. My favourite placement so far has been a 3-week rotation on a Paediatric ward north of Perth it was there that I may have found my place in nursing (Still undecided).

There I had my own patient load (Under supervision of course), inserted my very first nasal gastric tube on a 2-year-old boy (Sorry buddy), prepared children for surgery, looked after babies on high-flow oxygen and learnt an extraordinary amount from an amazing team.

What are some interesting experiences you have had that really stuck with you?

Caring for the previously mentioned patient suffering from Toxic Epidermal Necrosis was an eye-opening experience and somewhat confronting situation for a nursing student in their very first hospital rotation. Toxic Epidermal Necrosis (TEN’s) is a rare and serious skin condition that causes severe skin peeling and blistering which progresses extremely fast resulting in large raw areas that ooze or weep.

The reason it stuck out to me was the rarity of the condition mixed with the confronting nature of the symptom’s as well as the distress and pain it caused the patient, something I will never forget. The situation really made me realize how important it is to truly reflect. It’s common for us students to be constantly told to ‘reflect’ but it never felt worthwhile until I experienced what I did that day.

Other Questions!

How did Covid 19 affect you/your studies?

Covid 19 hit during the opening weeks of second year which meant most of our on-campus classes were cancelled, exams were turned into multiple online quizzes and our laboratory were condensed into intensive workshops.

What has surprised you the most about nursing?

The number of different skills that nurses are required to possess. Nurses are not only required to learn a vast set of clinical skills, pharmacological knowledge, and pathophysiology knowledge but some of the most important skills often overlooked are emotional intelligence, compassion, and empathy.

What do you wish you knew before you started studying?

Maths. I went through high school thinking that I would pursue something in the arts, so I spent my time in maths class annoying other students, playing games on my laptop and watching YouTube videos. Although now I love maths, I enjoy problem-solving and having the ability to apply maths to my work.

Which area/s would you like to work in or specialise in and why?

At the moment I’m keeping my mind open as I still have two more placements to complete which will be surgical and most likely a mental health placement. However, I really enjoyed my Paediatric placement so I’m leaning towards that. 

What would make your studies better?

I believe that Murdoch University has an exceptional nursing program and I honestly wouldn’t change a thing, our unit coordinators and lecturers are passionate and highly skilled, our facilities are amazing and we have an amazing student body full of highly motivated and exceptional students.

What advice would you give to future students thinking about studying nursing?

Make sure you’re doing nursing for the right reasons because it’s not something that you can do without giving 100% you’re looking after peoples lives so you need to be focused, motivated and truly believe in what you’re doing.

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