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The caped crusader

By Rick 'Buddy' Budd, Nursing graduate

Rick Budd returned to study more than two decades after completing high school. Today, Rick uses his nursing skills and love of cosplay to brighten the lives of people in hospital.

My name is Richard Budd and most people call me Rick or Buddy. I’m so used to being called by my last name that when I’m called Richard I think I’m in trouble! I’m a 40-something married father-of-one teenager (which explains my grey hairs) and I have completed a Diploma of Nursing (HLT54115).

I'm a passionate enrolled nurse working at the Mater Hospital in Townsville and I'm also a cosplayer. I dress up as movie villains to entertain people or raise money for charity. I’ve been in costume to see sick children in hospital a number of times to bring some magic into their lives. It makes me feel good to help others, but I didn't always know that I wanted to be a nurse.

When I finished high school I didn’t want to do further study or go onto university, so I joined the military for an adventure. I spent 12 years in the army and served on deployments to East Timor. After I discharged I had a number of different jobs including at mine sites and at a prison, but I wasn’t really settled. I was bored. I felt like I was wasting my time and I had no job satisfaction. I was also stuck between a rock and a hard place because there were no jobs in town for an unskilled person such as myself.

I caught up with a friend who was a mature age psychology student and she encouraged me to do further study and climb out of my rut. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but one of the best jobs that I have ever had was working as an orderly. I pushed the patients and beds around and assisted the nursing staff to undertake their duties. With that job in mind, I researched courses and it came down to nursing.

The thought of studying was daunting as I hadn’t studied since leaving high school. I’m a kinesthetic learner, so TAFE Queensland's hands-on training appealed to me. The Diploma of Nursing (HLT54115) was offered via flexible learning, which meant that I could study in my own time and participate in face-to-face residential learning blocks. My daughter was finishing high school at around the same time and she didn’t know what she wanted to do. I thought if I could show her that I was studying and enjoying it, maybe it might entice her to undertake a TAFE course too.

As my studies progressed, I enjoyed getting my hands dirty (so to speak) working in the nursing lab in Townsville. I also really liked interacting with my fellow classmates and we've formed lasting friendships. Everyone helped and encouraged each other through the course and it’s like that in the workforce too; we all hook in and support each other to get the job done. I could relate to my classmates as the majority of us were considered mature age students. We all had life experience and had worked in various different fields, so I didn't feel like a fish out of water. 

The TAFE Queensland teachers were also fantastic. They are full of real-life skills and knowledge and were able to impart the information to real-life settings and scenarios, whether that be conducting physical assessments of patients or responding to emergencies. In my honest opinion, the instruction I received was of such a great standard that it put me and my classmates in good stead for future job prospects. As a result of the high standards set by TAFE Queensland, I was offered a position as a student nurse while I was undertaking my final placement. To this day, I use every aspect that I was taught to undertake my job and it has been good putting theory into practice.

I barely passed high school and I never went to my formal or graduation, so attending my TAFE Queensland graduation was exciting and nerve-wracking. I could not believe it when I found out that I had won a student award for dedication to my studies. I don’t consider myself special, so I was shocked and flabbergasted by the recognition.

If you're like me and are thinking about re-engaging in study, I encourage you to go do a course to broaden your mind and horizon. It’s never too late and I'm proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.