La Trobe alumna shares knowledge with next generation of nurses

As a La Trobe alumna with two postgraduate degrees: Master of Nursing with a specialisation in Neonatal Intensive Care and a Diploma in Health Services Administration completed in 2021, Nicola Harwood always knew that she wanted to work in health with a focus on pediatrics and, in particular, neonates.   

“Every skill that I’ve learned while studying at La Trobe continues to be applied every day whether it’s clinical expertise or the lessons learned from subjects such as business management, leadership, and budgets. La Trobe provided a well-rounded education and had a strong impact on my career – providing a trajectory to my current leadership role”

We were motivated and passionate as we had made a conscious decision to enrol in the further study.  

Nicola Harwood – La Trobe alumna

As one of 3 Neonatal Services Unit Managers at Mercy Hospital for Women, Nicola oversees both the NICU and Special Care Nursery comprising 61 beds and over 200 nursing staff (including permanent staff, graduate and postgraduate RN, and RMs) as well as undergraduate students like La Trobe’s Glory Samuels who recently completed her placement in the special care nursery and provided the following reflection. 

Nicola Harwood

“My special care nursery placement was so interesting! It was good seeing evidence-based practice implemented in the ward which helped merge theoretical knowledge with clinical practice.  Likewise, watching how multidisciplinary teams work together e.g. doctors, nurses, midwives, nutritionists, pharmacists, and lactation consultants collaborate to better the outcomes of the neonates and their care plans.

Glory Samuels – curent La Trobe University student

“Learning compassion and sensitivity toward the families of the newborns was amazing. Learning to not make empty promises but communicate in a manner that is sensitive, caring, and empathetic. I enjoyed helping the mothers connect with their premature baby during skin-to-skin contact or seeing mothers visit numerous times a day to care for their baby”.   

Glory Samuels

Nicola’s advice to current students is “even if you think you may not be interested in more challenging areas like ED or recovery or cardiac, take the opportunity and see the positives as the skills learned in these spaces are invaluable.  The exposure and experiences may be challenging but they will also provide a good base and set you up for your career”.  

Although COVID-19 may have impacted the learning experiences of undergraduate students, Nicola believes that Mercy Hospital for Women understands and provides support and a little more nurturing, ensuring a future workforce of nurses, midwives, and leaders in the health space.