“Not really knowing herself” after she finished high school saw Ms Tayla Westgarth (pictured, centre) pursue a Bachelor of Business degree at another university, and a trip around the world to places such as the United States of America, Europe and South-East Asia.
During these years, Tayla, who comes from a small family in rural Victoria, learnt a lot about herself, and ultimately, what her ‘calling’ really was.
Her desire to help others grew particularly strong after high-school and even though she had already completed her business degree, the prospect of becoming a nurse seemed to shine more brightly every day.
“During my travels I found my heart growing strongly in the area of helping others,” Tayla said.
When Tayla was contemplating a career change, she drew inspiration from her mother - a clinical nurse specialist at the Mid North Coast Cancer Institute – to commence study to become a nurse, which meant pursuing a completely different life.
It was during the years Tayla was completing her Bachelor of Nursing in the Charles Sturt School of School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences that Tayla’s mother became her rock and mentor.
“With mum’s influence as a critical care nurse, I leant on her throughout my nursing degree. I was completely resetting my career path, and I knew it was the right thing to do,” Tayla said.
Tayla praised the online learning model at Charles Sturt, which saved her many hours of travel to attend on-campus learning sessions.
“I only had to travel away from home to attend intensive (residential) schools. This was much better than having to travel to or reside on campus, which would have prohibited me studying full-time,” she said.
“The online flexibility was very important to me, and I made life-long friends on my residential trips to Bathurst and Wagga Wagga.”
Tayla completed her Bachelor of Nursing degree in November 2021. The anticipation for graduation day has grown stronger ever since.
“The graduation ceremony is a space to allow myself to be aware of my achievements and celebrate with my family, it’s the icing on the cake after an emotional and satisfying three years,” Tayla said.
“I feel excited and proud to be able to wear the university robe as a privilege of earning a bachelor’s degree. I look forward to greeting the academic staff on the day and celebrating with them.”
Tayla reflected on her decision to pursue a career in nursing, rather than in business after competing her first degree.
“I realised when I finished my first degree and then wanted to pursue nursing that I would be a bit older and starting all over again to tackle another three years of university,” Tayla said.
“But if I didn’t take a chance on my dreams, I would still be in the same position three years on, wondering what it would have been like to be brave and become a nurse, or just put my head down and do it.
“So here I am, three years later as a Registered Nurse, and I couldn’t be prouder, and I can’t wait to give back to the community of the Mid North Coast.”
Tayla said that it was the ‘hands-on’ nature of the Charles Sturt Bachelor of Nursing online course that gave her the confidence that she would receive the same education as those attending on-campus learning models.
“At the time of searching for a university that could offer nursing completely online, Charles Sturt was the only one that could cater for this style of learning as the degree is very hands-on,” she said.
“I feel no less skilled than any other full-time on-campus student and was blown away with how the structure could get me the same result, while I could also keep my job as I worked around my full-time online studies.”
Tayla is also grateful for the friendships and connections she made during her nursing degree.
“It didn’t matter that I lived hundreds of kilometres away from everyone – as we all had a common interest – nursing. The friendships I have made with people from all walks of life will always keep us connected,” she said.
Tayla feels her nursing degree has equipped her for a life-long career in the health sector.
“I see myself being a nurse until I need to be nursed. It comes naturally to me and there are so many doors that can be opened,” she said.
“You’re not tied down to one specific role - you can go down so many different avenues, such as working in specialist areas, teaching, rural and remote nursing, private and public health, community and primary health, and research.
“I am passionate about geriatric depression and having dignity at end of life, so I can see myself being fulfilled in a palliative care role down the track.”
Tayla was offered a graduate position as a registered nurse with NSW Health. She has recently commenced working in the intensive care unit (ICU) for her first rotation at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus.