From TAFE to university: veterinary technology student shares why she decided to upskill

24 AUGUST 2020

From TAFE to university: veterinary technology student shares why she decided to upskill

With National Skills Week (Monday 24 to Sunday 30 August) in full swing, Charles Sturt is sharing the story of a student who chose to pursue tertiary education to strengthen the skills and knowledge she gained from TAFE and working in the industry.

Charles Sturt University student Mrs Helena Davies has dedicated her career to helping take care of nature’s creatures – great and small.

The 16-year veterinary nurse veteran currently works at a mixed practice in Ulladulla, but got her first job in the industry in the early 2000s, within weeks of starting Certificate III in Veterinary Nursing at TAFE.

After completing her Certificate IV at TAFE, Helena secured her dream job at a veterinary orthopaedic and neurological specialist in Sydney, which she stayed at for 10 years.

Mrs Helena Davies pictured with a small dogIt was in 2017 – after many successful years in the industry – that Helena decided to return to study and enrol part-time in Charles Sturt’s Bachelor of Veterinary Technology to strengthen the skills and knowledge she had developed.

“I chose to return to study because the veterinary nursing industry is rapidly evolving and improving,” Helena said.

“I am forward planning and do not want to find myself in a position where my certificates and experience are not enough for future employment.

“I still have the same passion for animal health and care after all these years and want to remain the best veterinary nurse I can possibly be.”

Study this time round for Helena was a little different to her TAFE days; she was studying online, she had not undertaken formal study in years, and she was raising a young family.

“I had concerns being a mature-age student returning to study after so many years, but I found my years of experience and qualifications provided a solid foundation,” Helena said.

“My TAFE qualifications provided me with subject credits and I have managed to condense a six-year, part-time online degree into four years.

“Through this experience I have also met many other mature-age students reinventing and improving their qualifications and careers.”

Helena shared that balancing study, work and raising a young family has been very challenging, but she is lucky to have a very supportive family and workplace.

“I believe being a working mother has made me a master in time management,” she said.

“My workplace has also been very supportive, and fortunately for me, my industry employment has covered my work placement requirements during these COVID-19 isolating times.”

The University’s residential schools have been the highlight of Helena’s university experience.

“The hands-on practical sessions during residential school have being an amazing experience,” Helena said.

“They are very much ‘hands-on’. From anatomy and physiology to reproduction, microbiology to veterinary nursing diagnostics and emergency and critical care.”

Mrs Helena Davies pictured at work.Helena said she has also enjoyed the variety of subject options at Charles Sturt, and these subjects are highly relevant to the industry.

“I love that the subjects offered in this degree are industry-relevant and they have immediately improved my knowledge and skills in the workplace,” she said.

“This degree provides a variety of electives tailored to personal interests, from general small animals to horses and other large animals, and office management.

“It also provides greater and more diverse employment opportunities compared to the TAFE certificates alone.”

Although it was her TAFE qualifications that helped Helena to carve out her veterinary nursing career, she said she has no plans for a career change when she graduates from Charles Sturt at the end of this year.

“This degree has expanded my knowledge, exposed me to a variety of new opportunities, and reinforced my love for animal health and care,” she said.

“But my passion is still veterinary nursing and I plan to keep nursing at my current practice for many years to come.

“My advice for anyone considering this degree, especially previous and current TAFE students, is to take the leap and do it.

“It is hard work but thoroughly enjoyable, and I believe it will solidify future employment in a rapidly evolving industry.”

Media Note:

For more information or to arrange interviews with Mrs Helena Davies, contact Rebecca Akers at Charles Sturt Media on 0456 377 434 or

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