- High-performing nursing student awarded national scholarship to attend industry conference in Tasmania
- Student from Albury-Wodonga said the conference “reaffirmed her decision to work in remote healthcare”
- Student is sharing her story and championing Australian nurses to mark this year’s Nursing Week
To mark this year’s Community and Primary Health Care Nursing Week, from Monday 16 to Sunday 22 September, Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) student Ms Emma Aldrich is sharing her story of being a nursing student and shining a light on the valuable contribution of nurses across Australia.
The third-year nursing student at Charles Sturt in Albury-Wodonga was recently selected from a national pool of applicants for a NSW Health scholarship to attend the Australian College of Nursing's National Nursing Forum in Tasmania between Wednesday 21 to Friday 23 August 2019.
The high-performing student, who is also Charles Sturt’s Nursing Club President for 2019, was awarded the scholarship for her demonstrated success in academia, workplace learning, clinical practice, community engagement and providing compassionate care.
Speaking of her scholarship win Ms Aldrich said, “I was so excited to receive the scholarship to attend the forum because it offered a valuable opportunity for professional development and to broaden my knowledge prior to beginning my graduate employment in 2020.
“The theme for the forum this year was ‘Power of Policy’. Exploring this theme allowed me to develop my understanding around different policies and how health professionals can advocate for policy change.
“Listening to the various guest speakers allowed me to learn more about the diverse range of opportunities the profession offers, and I was very inspired by young nurse leaders who were leading change in their fields at such early stages of their careers.”
Associate Head (Students) in the Charles Sturt School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health Dr Jessica Biles said Ms Aldrich was nominated for the scholarship because of her excellent academic performance, her high performance during her clinical placements and her commitment to local communities.
“Being awarded the scholarship from NSW Health is a testament to Emma’s commitment and hard work during her studies, and her passion for nursing,” Dr Biles said.
“The University is so proud Emma has received this positive recognition from the nursing profession and we are excited to follow her nursing career once she graduates.”
Ms Aldrich always knew she wanted to work in the medical profession, and after taking a gap year in remote Western Australia where she saw the impact isolation had on an individual’s ability to achieve good health, she settled on studying nursing in her hometown of Albury-Wodonga.
“My parents both work in healthcare, and I knew I wanted to follow a similar career direction,” Ms Aldrich said.
“During my gap year, I became aware of the negative impact remoteness has on life expectancy and health, especially for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This fuelled my passion for remote healthcare and inspired me to begin my nursing degree and sign a petition to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous health status, and I remain committed to achieving this outcome.”
Ms Aldrich said attending the conference has reaffirmed her decision to work in remote healthcare when she graduates.
“At the conference, I was given the opportunity to speak to lots of health professionals who worked within remote Australia. These individuals inspired and encouraged me to pursue this career path and provided me with valuable information regarding employment opportunities,” Ms Aldrich said.
“For my final five-week university placement, I am heading to three remote communities in the Northern Territory – Alice Springs, Santa Teresa and Ti Tree.
“I have also applied for graduate positions in the Kimberley, Northern Territory, Torres Strait Islands and Broken Hill, so I am eager to find out where I end up working.”
Attending the conference also gave Ms Aldrich the opportunity to learn more about the vast contribution of nurses across Australia.
“The forum exposed me to a huge range of health professionals working in a vast range of areas, which was both insightful and inspirational,” Ms Aldrich said.
“I was very inspired by many prominent nurse leaders who were so willing to invest their time to assist students like myself who attended the forum.
“Nurses contribute so much to the community; they contribute to the physical, mental, emotional and social health of individuals.
“I am happy that Nursing Week will shine a light on the dedication and hard work of Australia’s nurses and I can’t wait to graduate and join this amazing profession.”
Ms Aldrich is already well on her way to beginning a successful nursing career. She has undertaken clinical placements overseas in the Philippines and at the Wagga Wagga Mental Health Recovery Unit. She has gained experience working across areas such as aged care, operating theatres, mental health, emergency department, paediatrics, community health and maternity.
In 2017, Ms Aldrich was awarded Albury Young Citizen of the Year for her work in remote Western Australia during her gap year.