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Fee-Free TAFE helps Sharon to help others

After spending many days in a Children’s Hospital, caring for her grandson after a bone marrow transplant, Sharon Hickey was inspired to become a nurse.

“I watched the beautiful nursing and assistant in nursing professionals doing their jobs, and I thought, ‘I would do this’,” explains Sharon.

Nursing was a natural progression after many years working in community services as a care manager, and Sharon initially enrolled in the Certificate III in Health Services Assistant (HLT33115) with TAFE Queensland.

“I only intended to study to that level, but I enjoyed the learning and the teachings so much that I wanted to learn more – my passion was ignited.”

“So, I followed my heart and pursued a Diploma in Nursing (HLT54121), and I love it. I’m glad that I completed the certificate III as it gave me a good knowledge of the basics of care, medical terminology and decent basic knowledge for studying the human body,” she explains.

Sharon also uses Fee-Free TAFE funding to study for her career in caring, which is part of the Queensland Government's Good People. Good jobs: Queensland Workforce Strategy 2022–2032.

It aims to connect, educate, and attract the people needed to meet the state's workforce demand in existing and new industry sectors and support continued economic growth.

With approximately 37,000 Fee-Free TAFE and vocational education and training places available in 2024, the program will support Queenslanders to skill up to meet the state's current and future workforce needs by enabling them to complete selected qualifications at no or low cost.

“Fee-Free has helped me as an older student, and now that I don't have debt and haven’t used my savings to pay for the course, I’m so truly grateful for this opportunity.”

“I’ve been able to purchase arch support waterproof shoes, nursing textbooks, a stethoscope, a blood pressure kit, my TAFE uniform, a laptop, stationery and a bag to carry everything,” she said.

Studying at TAFE Queensland’s Caboolture Campus sees Sharon train using hospital grade facilities and equipment, providing the perfect learning environment under the guidance of industry-experienced teachers.

"The modern facilities, including the simulated hospital wards, provide practical hands-on training that will prepare me for the real-world challenges of my placements and the nursing profession," she explained.

“The balance of theory and hands-on learning is amazing, and implementing what we learn in the classroom in the nursing labs is a wonderful way to learn.”

“The hospital-grade beds, simulated patients, and medical equipment all give us knowledge and understanding of nursing in a hospital setting,” she said.

Also helping Sharon become a nurse is her family's support, although she admits to missing them while she’s busy focusing on her studies.

“I have a supportive family and friends, and my biggest challenge has been having minimal contact with my children, grandchildren, parents, and friends while I concentrate on the course, as there is much to learn and understand,” she said.

Looking ahead, Sharon can see that her career path to becoming a nurse is clear, with her TAFE Queensland diploma equipping her with knowledge, skills, confidence and determination to become the best nurse possible.

“I am not sure exactly where I would like to work – but my training and hospital placements are narrowing down my goals, and I know I’d like to work in rural and remote Queensland one day,” concluded Sharon.