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Annika finds her passion in nursing

Bundaberg local Annika Candy has kick-started a rewarding career supporting others at their most vulnerable, securing work as a qualified enrolled nurse at just 19 years of age.

When Annika graduated from high school in 2019, she had no idea what career path she wanted to take. Keen to further her studies, Annika was working registers at a grocery store and scoping out her options, when her mother suggested she look into TAFE Queensland’s Diploma of Nursing (HLT54115).

“Straight out of school I had no idea what really interested me, but I had always admired nurses, their kindness and commitment to their patients,” Ms Candy said.

“I aspired to be someone who was able to make a positive impact in someone’s life, and the idea of wearing scrubs everyday was very exciting,” she said.

The more Annika thought about it, the more interested she said she became, until she finally took the plunge and decided to enrol at TAFE Queensland’s Bundaberg campus.

“I saw the opportunities that could arise from having my diploma. I became very fond of the idea that I could one day be working in the wards on a hospital, so I decided to do my diploma,” she said.

“My first day at TAFE was daunting, as it is for anybody starting at a new job or school. But the teachers provided such a welcoming environment for us all, made sure we were all comfortable, and made time for us to build relationships with our fellow classmates so we all had support around us."

“The course wasn't long at all, only 18 months including three placements, and the facilities TAFE Queensland has are amazing — they have a full ward unit with every piece of equipment we needed to refine our skills each day.”

Although she initially struggled with her confidence, Annika said that the support and positive feedback she received from her teachers and the instructors she had while on placement helped build her faith in her knowledge and skills.

“Confidence was a huge challenge for me, but the teachers were always providing praise and support. They helped me to see how well I was doing and how well my skills were coming along,” Annika said.

“The feedback after placements made a huge difference for me, seeing what my preceptors wrote about me really built my confidence back up and helped me become a better nurse.”

Annika completed her qualification in June 2021 and has since secured full-time employment as an enrolled nurse at a local doctor’s surgery.

“It’s the best decision I have made for my career. I went from being straight out of school and working the register at Woolworths with no idea of what I wanted to be, to now working alongside surgeons and experienced medical professionals every day,” Annika said.

“The skills I learnt through TAFE are my biggest asset in my career — without the practical hands-on experience I had at TAFE Queensland, I wouldn't be where I am today."

“My skills help me to make informed decisions for my patients’ care, and I am able to work alongside doctors and surgeons with the confidence that I have the skills they need from me."

“I actually had a doctor ask me on my second day of work if I had done anything like this previously. The doctor then afterwards went to our practice manager and said to her that he is really impressed with my skillset for such a new nurse. That was a huge confidence boost for me, for my skills to be noticed so quickly in my new job, and I have TAFE Queensland to thank for that."

Annika said the whole experience has made her all-the-more certain that she chose the right career path.

“At only 19-years-old, I feel as though TAFE Queensland has provided me with a huge advantage and set me up for my future. I now have a diploma under my belt and a secure job in an industry which I love."

“I absolutely love my job, and it never feels like 'work'. I enjoy waking up and going to do something I love. I enjoy seeing my patients and it brings me joy when they ask to see me or remember me from their last visit. It helps me to know that I'm making a positive impact in people’s lives.”

Annika now plans to continue her studies in the future and become a Registered Nurse, but said for now, she is happy knowing her work supports others at their most vulnerable.

“In the kind of work I do, there are so many windows of opportunity to branch out into other specialised fields, which I hope to explore when I feel the time is right.

“But there is nothing more rewarding than knowing the work you do helps and inspires others. I get to go home at the end of the day knowing that I have given my all, helped improve someone else's life and that makes me happy."

“My goal is to make an impact in my patients’ lives. I hope to be the person who manages to put a smile on my patients’ faces in what could be their darkest times, and inspire others to push themselves to their full potential and know that no dream is too unrealistic.”

Annika said she encourages others considering a fulfilling career in nursing to take the plunge and pursue what they are truly passionate about.

“There's no harm in trying something new, and you never know — it could open the doorway to your dream job,” she said.

“Grab the opportunity with both hands, and invest in yourself. Your future will thank you for it.”