Three years ago, Matthew Woodcock was working at a holiday park along the Murray River. Finding himself ‘going through the motions’ tending to the demands of tourists, the 29-year-old decided to embark on a dramatic career change: nursing.
‘I wrote down a list of jobs that I would like, and I cross-referenced them against projected future job prospects with the increase of automation,’ he says. ‘This led me to look into the health profession.’
‘After a number of discussions with my family and extended family, I ended up pursuing nursing because of the many diverse and interesting career pathways that I can take.’
His gravitation towards the field also had a familial influence – his mother, aunt and cousin are all nurses.
It didn’t take long for Matthew to decide that La Trobe’s Shepparton Campus was the perfect fit for him. After reading about the Bachelor of Nursing on the University’s website, he met with teaching staff to ask questions and vent his concerns.
Matthew expressed his anxiety about returning to study after such a long break. He was also worried about entering a field that’s still populated by more women than men.
The teachers quickly put all his concerns to rest.
‘The teachers and staff made me feel welcome and part of every team that I’ve been involved with,’ Matthew says.
‘I realised in my first year that my gender has little to no bearing on my ability to provide safe and effective patient care.’
also says his return to study was helped by the friendly and supportive
environment at Shepparton Campus. ‘I’m a big believer that the most effective
way of learning is to collaborate and discuss stuff with other students,’ he
‘Every time I discuss stuff with a student, or teach something to another student, my understanding of that thing is much better – it just sticks.’
Now in his fourth year, Matthew’s time at La Trobe has opened his eyes to a world of new opportunities.
‘Sometimes you can work and work, and just get stuck in a rut,’ he says. ‘One thing I find when I’m at university is that my mind is open to opportunities, more than when you’re in the routine of work.
‘It’s taught me to dream again because you meet a lot of people; there’s a lot of networks out there, and it makes you think, I could do study a Master’s of this, or, I could apply for that program.’
In the past year alone, Matthew has undertaken placements in:
- the Intensive Care Unit at GV Health (five weeks)
- district nursing at Kyabram District Health Service (two weeks)
- mental health at Shepparton Private Hospital (three weeks)
- the Day Procedure Unit at GV Health (two weeks)
Most remarkably, he’s already helped save lives.
During his Intensive Care Unit placement, one patient went into cardiac arrest. Matthew assisted staff to insert a pacing wire that restarted the woman’s heart.
‘We were trying to be as positive as we could, but a lot of the team expected she wouldn’t make it,’ he remembers. ‘But she survived, and now she’s back in the medical ward.’
What does the future hold for Matthew? He’ll soon start a graduate year at GV Health in Shepparton. He then hopes to pursue work in critical care (think emergency departments or intensive care units) or perioperative nursing inside surgical theatres.
Matthew is well on his way to achieving those goals. At the end of 2019, he was awarded a Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation student award for exhibiting qualities of excellence in nursing practice.
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