Managing the demands of studying, work and home life can be a barrier to many aged care workers who are looking to further their skills, but not for Jordan Garrett, Amy Holton and Rutendo Muzamhindo, who are the latest staff from Central Coast Community Care Association (CCCCA) to qualify with a Bachelor of Nursing degree.
The latest Central Coast cohort have spent the last nine years combined studying, while also working at one of not-for-profit CCCCA’s two aged care facilities, Killarney Court and Lake Haven Court.
Despite all coming from differing backgrounds, the new graduates are three of the newest nurses to graduate on the Coast and have bright futures in an industry they love.
Garrett started her aged care career as a nursing assistant before deciding to further her skills.
“I loved being able to make a difference in people’s lives.
“I knew it was a career I wanted to pursue further so I decided to do my registered nursing degree,” Garrett said.
While some employers would baulk at the lengthy leave times required for a nursing degree, with multiple five-week blocks of clinical placements, study leave and exams to attend, CCCCA recognised the importance of flexibility and in supporting staff to upskill, despite the temporary inconvenience that staff absences and rostering requests may have.
“With the support of her employer, Garrett was able to spend the next two years studying, while also working.
Holton started her aged care journey at the age of 16 and has a deep affection for the industry.
“I instantly fell in love with the industry and knew that aged care was where my career would be,” she explained.
“I love the diversity of residents in aged care, as well as being able to spend quality time with them and getting to know their stories.
“I looked into different avenues for career progression in Aged Care and kept coming back to wanting to further my skills and experience clinically, so I decided to complete my Bachelor of Nursing degree to become a Registered Nurse,” Holton explained.
The ACFI and Admissions Manager studied part-time over four years, while working fulltime and raising a family.
CCCCA allowed Holton many extended blocks of leave to complete placements, something she found extremely valuable.
“Clinical placement allowed me to gain experience in a range of clinical areas from paediatric wards, emergency, theatres and general medical wards,” Holton said.
Despite experience in a wide range of clinical fields, Holton is staying with CCCCA in her present role, and plans on furthering her nursing qualification with a master’s program.
Muzamhindo loved that her degree led her to different nursing specialties and enjoyed the collaboration between students and practicing nurses.
“It just amazed me how the nurses were so knowledgeable and willing to teach me what l did not know,” she said.
As with her peers, the team at CCCCA were flexible with Muzamhindo over the three years she studied, and the newly qualified nurse appreciates it.
“I am so grateful with the support CCCCA provided for me while completing the nursing degree.
“Due to clinical placements l had to take long periods of annual leave twice every year, in addition to my study and other personal leave.
“In those three years all my annual leave requests were approved,” Muzamhindo said.
While many aged care organisations struggle to retain highly qualified and dedicated staff, CCCCA CEO, Greg Williams, said the CCCCA understood that in order to retain and develop staff, the organisation would need to be flexible.
It was a case of short-term sacrifice, long-term benefit for the Central Coast organisation.
“There never was any question that we wouldn’t support these three team members in their education,” Williams said.
“For the organisation to retain excellent staff, they have to be encouraged to grow, and adding more registered nurses to our team is fantastic.
“CCCCA has a proud history of supporting local Central Coast aged care workers to achieve their goals, and I am proud of the dedication and resilience of these team members.” While physical graduations have been put on hold for now, this latest trio of graduates can look forward to enjoying the fruits of their labours, a well-earned break from the books.
Press release, Feb 2