Lauren Perry has wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps for as long as she can remember, having spent her childhood idolising her work as a registered nurse.
“My mum is a huge inspiration; I have always looked up to her and respected the work she did,” Lauren said.
“As a child I knew she was going to work at the hospital to help sick people feel better and it made me happy that someone I loved was able to do that – I always thought it was really special.
Lauren started her career 10 years ago after gaining her Certificate III in Individual Support (CHC33015), enabling her to work and gain experience in aged care while she continued on her path to becoming a nurse.
“When it came to starting my career, I wanted to enter the industry quickly and I thought that the certificate III was a great bridge into nursing,” she said.
Following the three-month premature arrival of her twins and her son’s diagnosis with several complex medical conditions, Lauren put her career plans on hold, instead maintaining a stable position in aged care as an Assistant in Nursing while taking care of her family. But the experience – while incredibly challenging – only strengthened Lauren’s resolve to achieve her goal.
“My son has spent all of his life in and out of hospital and I learnt very quickly about the huge impact nurses make with what they can do to change outcomes for patients and their families,” Lauren said.
“During the hardest times of our lives, the nurses really saw us through with their support, kindness, professionalism, and care. I saw nursing in a really different light and admired the work they did so much more."
“After everything he and our family went through, I just knew it was for me and that it was what I needed to do. His health was very uncertain but I was confident that with TAFE Queensland, I would be able to balance being a mum and studying.”
Lauren commenced her studies in the Diploma of Nursing (HLT54115) at TAFE Queensland’s Hervey Bay campus at the beginning of 2019, but was faced with the prospect of having to drop out after her son was moved to Brisbane for his biggest operation yet. It was during this time that she applied for a TAFE Queensland scholarship, in the hope that she’d be able to buy resources that would enable her to continue her studies.
“We had to move to Ronald McDonald House in Brisbane for six months while my son was in the children’s hospital. I knew this was going to be a huge challenge for our family and a barrier for me to continue my studies as I was so far from home, unable to attend class or work,” Lauren said.
“I heard about the scholarships from another classmate, who encouraged me to apply, but I never thought my application would be successful.
“It helped me enormously – I was able to purchase a laptop that was fast, internet to use in the hospital and nursing books, and it also helped with travel costs so I could return to complete my weekly labs.”
After her son was put on life support, Lauren made the decision to defer her studies to focus on his recovery. But she has since returned to her studies and is now on track to complete her qualification this semester.
“TAFE Queensland has been a wonderful experience for me and is helping me to reach my goals,” Lauren said.
“I really enjoy the content, the delivery and that we have an excellent amount of practical work that we do in the lab – the facilities are great. My teacher has also been incredible and has been the best support during my studies.”
After graduating, Lauren aspires to work in an acute area of nursing, where she can help patients facing stress and trauma by applying both the skills she has developed during her studies and the compassion she has gained from her own experience with her son. But above all, she hopes to make her children as proud as she was of her own mother.
“I really want to do this to make my children proud and show them that even when life is difficult and it seems like there are endless reasons to give up, it’s so important not to,” Lauren said.
“My daughter Chloe is very excited and I can tell she is proud – she says she wants to be a nurse when she grows up. And Mason thinks it’s wonderful as he knows the positive impact nurses have had for him, so he is excited his mum can do that for other people.”