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Why nursing degrees aren't just for nursing

Why nursing degrees aren't just for nursing
Photo: Why nursing degrees aren't just for nursing
The desire to help others is one of the most common reasons for undertaking a nursing degree. 

But for some nursing graduates, for one reason or another, a traditional career in nursing isn’t on the cards.

That doesn’t mean you can’t put your degree to good use though. Nor does it mean you can’t enjoy a career helping others.

In fact, holding a nursing degree can compliment many other professions, in and out of the health profession.

For Sports Chiropractor, Glenn Stevens, his nursing degree was initially chosen as a pathway into physiotherapy.

“I played a high level of AFL growing up, and spent a bit of times with sports physios,” says Mr Stevens.

“I always wanted to be the physiotherapist for an AFL club, and eventually open up my own clinic,”
In the end, Mr Stevens completed his nursing degree, then went on to study chiropractic science, eventually completing his masters in chiropractic.

“I knew I wouldn’t get the marks to get straight into physiotherapy, and wanted to study something in healthcare.

“I also knew if I didn’t continue my education, I would always be able to travel around the world with a nursing degree from Sydney University.

Initially, Mr Stevens found it difficult to maintain concentration, and also found himself feeling out of the loop, being a man in a predominantly female course.

But he soon found himself enjoying the experience.

“I enjoyed the peace and helping people,” he says.

“Getting to know patients, and helping them in a time of need was very emotionally rewarding.

“I was lucky enough to do my mental health placement at Long Bay Prison which was very interesting, and unlike anywhere I had ever been before.

“I also enjoyed the emergency department work and Intensive care, as the work in there was a little more technical.”

While Mr Stevens knew nursing would be an effective steppingstone towards his dream career, he also found the experience helped him with patient care, after he launched his chiropractic clinic.

“Ultimately, we are still helping people, just in a different setting,” he says.

“I was always very motivated to open up my own clinic and improve the level of chiropractic care in Australia.

“After finishing university, I was lucky enough to work with the GWS giants AFL club, where I learnt about how far you can push the human body when it is placed in the right environment.

“I am now able to transfer that knowledge to my clients in clinic.”

Mr Stevens says studying nursing has increased his ability to empathise with his clients, and provided him with an insider’s knowledge of what takes place during surgery – an important factor, given many of his clients present to the clinic post-operation.

“Knowing what they go through during the operative process, I can explain in a little more detail what happens and why they feel certain things post-surgery.

“It also helps me understand the language that surgeons use in their post-operative care guides.”

Mr Stevens says studying nursing also improved his communications skills, and taught him how to actively listen.

“It’s given me a deeper understanding of the human body, and how the healthcare system works.”

For Rebecca Mason, obtaining a double degree in nursing and midwifery, enabled her to work casually and travel the world with her husband and six children – ultimately leading to the launch of her own travel company.

“I always wanted to be a nurse and have six children,” Ms Mason says.

“I graduated in 1995, and worked as a nurse, having my first child in 1999.”

By 2003, she’d graduated as a midwife too, and given birth her second and third children.

“In 2004 I had my fourth child, took maternity leave and continued to work part-time. 

“In 2006 and 2009 I had my fifth and sixth child, and I’m still working casually as a midwife, while travelling the world with my family of eight.

With all that travel, Ms Mason identified a gap in the market for affordable holidays for large families. 

“I thought the best way I could help change the trends in the travel market and advocate for large families was to obtain a certificate III in Travel & tourism and open my own business.”

She now combines casual midwifery with running her travel agency, Mr Chocolate’s Travel, and says her nursing degree has played a key role in its success.

“(My degree and work in nursing has taught me) compassion, organisational and listening skills, and provided me with the ability to understanding different family dynamics and requirements – holistic nursing.

“It’s also enabled me to understand common abbreviations, medical considerations with regards to insurance.

“I also have meticulous attention to detail when it comes to paperwork.”

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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 (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.