From hospitality to the hospital
Justinne Bautista came to ACU to study and shift career directions. She left with a Bachelor of Nursing – and a husband.
Like many non-school leavers who return to study after time in the workforce, Justinne enrolled at ACU looking for a career change.
“When I first arrived in Australia from the Philippines I was working in hospitality,” she said. “I had jobs in hotels and then in real estate for a bit, but I wanted to do more and find something with more depth.”
Justinne decided on a Bachelor of Nursing at ACU based on recommendations from friends. And in spite of being a non-school leaver when she began her studies, she had no trouble working alongside her younger classmates.
“Everyone was lovely and I never felt left out because we were all learning together.
"I ended up enjoying my placements the most.
"ACU had some great connections with various hospitals and I felt really supported.
“Though at the same time, when you’re studying something like nursing, you still get thrown in the deep end at some point.”
However, Justinne was lucky enough to have a leg up throughout her studies.
“I worked in aged care and home care while I was at ACU, which was really helpful and such a valuable experience for someone studying nursing.
“It gave me that extra bit of knowledge and a few skills that made it easier when I graduated and began working as a registered nurse. It was about more than just interacting with patients too, but learning to work with all of the staff as well. It helped lay a good foundation for me.”
Discovering theatre nursing
After she graduated, Justinne’s first role was in a private endoscopy clinic.
“When I was studying, my specialty placement was in theatre and I knew I really wanted to do that in the long-term. I soon transitioned to a hospital role working as an endoscopy nurse, as well as a perioperative scrub nurse. I then moved to St Vincent’s where I gained a place in their introduction to specialty program for perioperative nursing, which is like doing a grad year. It’s for RNs like me who had a year of acute experience.
“I’m not sure quite what’s next for me and I’ve liked doing a bit of everything – today I was exposed to ENT and a bit of plastic surgery and I have ortho coming up. I do know I want to be an all-round perioperative scrub nurse.
“And I really like working in teams, it’s one of my favourite parts of what I do.
“When I was working in aged care I was a bit more independent, but it was isolating too. Whereas when you work in theatre like I do, you’ve got the surgeon there, an anesthetist, and all of the other nurses supporting the patient.”
Nursing through the pandemic
Like all health care workers, when Covid-19 arrived Justinne had new challenges to overcome.
“I did care for a couple of Covid patients who were having procedures at my hospital. It’s not easy to communicate with all of the PPE we have to wear, like face shields and everything else. It’s so hard talking through the N95 masks, you sound all muffled. The real issue is it creates a bigger barrier between you and your patient. Wearing the normal surgical mask is so much easier, but you deal with it and you move on to help them.
“Working during COVID was particularly hard for me as there was a lot of downtime as so many elective surgeries had to be cancelled. I used that time to get involved in more training opportunities.”
A tour de force
While Justinne came to ACU to become a qualified registered nurse, little did she know that her studies would lead to love.
“I was volunteering at Orientation and was there to give students a tour of the campus. I saw a man waiting for the day to start and I approached him to ask if he was Filipino like me. And that’s how I met my husband.
“We were just friends to begin with and I certainly never expected something like this to happen at Orientation. Similarly, he was at ACU to study a Master of Business Administration and just wanted a campus tour!”
Justinne and her husband got married in April 2021 and were given a gift card to a restaurant in the city as a wedding gift.
“After dinner that night, we stopped by the Melbourne Campus to take a picture together. ACU is now a very significant place for us!”
If you’re interested in a career like Justinne’s, find out where a Bachelor of Nursing could lead.