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Age no barrier to a career in nursing

Age no barrier to a career in nursing
Photo: Age no barrier to a career in nursing
Growing up, Catherine Grima’s career aspirations switched from hair dressing and teaching, to food technologist and lab assistant, and everything in between.

In the end, Ms Grima deferred university to become a dental nurse, a job she enjoyed for five years before getting married and having children, dedicated her life to them, as well as assisting the school community.

“I returned to work in my mid thirties as a casual retail shop assistant in fashion,” she says.

“I continued to follow this journey and managed some well-known ladies and children fashion retail stores well into my early fifties.”

Throughout that time, she felt herself being pulled in a different direction.

One of her son’s had been involved in a motorcycle accident that resulted in his being confined to a wheelchair, and another son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
“So, I guess the medical thing was always in my life,” she says.

“Constantly at Doctors and hospital visits. I would admire the nurses for what they did.

“I have personally endured some hospital stays that weren’t the best and I thought if I could make a difference to someone’s stay in hospital for the better, it would be a good day.”

So, she decided to become a nurse, enrolling in university at 52 years of age.

“I enrolled into the course at 2am one morning.

“I do not believe I really had any idea of what I was getting myself into. I remember being absolutely exhausted after lectures for the first few weeks. I would come home and pass out on the lounge. My brain was having to work again! I was like a sponge just trying to absorb all the information and not miss anything.

“But  I loved the content and I loved going to lectures. I loved the comradery that had already formed in our class.

“We were a mixed bag from school leavers to people in their 60s.”

Ms Grima says there were pros and cons to being a mature age student, with the biggest challenge being technology.

“The younger generations could grasp the computer work fast, whereas I would that bit longer.”

However embarking on nursing career in her fifties, has been beneficial in many ways, from more life experience to increased passion.

“The timing felt so right for me.

“I believe my life experiences has helped pave the way on my journey in nursing.  There have been many moments that no training can prepare you for, but having had some life experience, it had groomed me for the psychological impacts.

“I experienced some very lengthy stays in hospital and know only too well what its like to be the patient.

“I understand the feelings of overwhelming anxiety, waiting for test results, being away from family and loved ones, loss of independence, allowing others into your private space, learning to trust others with your life.”

Ms Grima says nursing has influenced her life in many ways, keeping her grounded, and grateful for the little things life offers.

“I appreciate life and do not take it for granted. I appreciate the small things. I do not need the latest of fashion, cars, or jewellery to be happy.  Just a simple life with small treasures like family, friends, and growing roses.”

Her only regret? Not doing it earlier.

“I regret not doing it even 5 years earlier, that would have allowed me more time to pursue further study and climb the ladder, but I am proud of my achievements and content with who I am now at 58 years old.”

And she has no plans to give up work any time soon – even if she does admit to some extra aches and pains.

“Nursing is not an easy career. It can be a mixed bag of feelings and emotions. Not one day is the same.

“Some days are the best. Some days are so exhausting both mentally and physically. Some days are frustrating. Some days are so sad that I cannot wait to get home to my family or call them and hear their voices, and I realise just how damn lucky we are.

“Some days are just so rewarding that I feel so privilege to have cared for my patients. To care for a patient is a beautiful privilege, especially in their last days on earth.”

To those who think they’ve left their career in nursing too late, Ms Grima says, think again.

“I would encourage anyone who is thinking about pursuing your dreams to just do it. Become a mature age student and make a difference in your life and in someone else’s.

“I have no regrets. Make it happen, you won’t regret it!!”


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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications ( and a children's author.