Getting an early start on the path to uni
Sophie Hankin was accepted into the Bachelor of Nursing via the ACU Guarantee program. While she’s still in her first year, Sophie is already making a head-start on gaining as much hands-on experience as she can.
Australian Catholic University (ACU) first came to Sophie’s mind when the avid water polo player learned the university sponsored her local club. And then when she learned about the ACU Guarantee program from her school’s careers advisor, she knew it was the right move.
“Originally I applied through the Elite Athlete and Performer Program (EAPP), but my advisor at school thought ACU Guarantee would be a better fit,” Sophie said. “When I learnt I would have an offer to my nursing course before I had even completed my final exams, I knew it was the right choice. This was definitely why I applied. It 100 per cent took the pressure off, which was a big relief.”
And like many first year students who started at ACU in 2021, Sophie had the added stress of completing her final year of high school during the peak of the global pandemic.
“Because of COVID-19, I missed out on things like school sports carnivals, which were all cancelled, and it was hard at times getting through Year 12 online via Zoom. But looking back now, it actually wasn’t as bad I thought it would be, and I enjoyed having that little bit of independence.”
A head start
Deciding on a Bachelor of Nursing was an easy decision for Sophie, who made a head start on her health career while she was still at school.
“I did a TAFE course in health services in Year 12, which included 80 hours of placement in a hospital ward, and I also did work experience at an aged care home in Year 10. It was great to see how the nurses worked and what their job was really like. Choosing what to study at uni was simple for me. It just felt like the right fit.
“I’m also working part-time now in aged care which has given me valuable experience and a little leg-up with my studies.
"I enjoy working with the elderly residents, though some of them are really lonely. But there’s a social side to my job and it’s so nice to make their day with a chat and to help them out.”
Similar to many students coming to uni for the first time, Sophie said she was a bit intimidated to begin her degree at the North Sydney Campus, but has settled in quickly.
“I was a little overwhelmed by the workload to start, especially when you’ve had a long break between school finishing and the first semester starting,” she said. “I had to find new ways to better organise my time.
“So far, the practicals are my favourite part of the course. At the moment, most of my tutorials are online so it’s been really good to come to class and interact with all of the other nursing students and our lecturers.
"For now, we’re just starting off with things like learning about the basics of manual care and checking vital signs.
“I can see how my confidence has already grown through doing things like simulated personal care, which was really nerve wracking at the start as you want to get everything right. Plus, we’re all still getting to know each other.”
Even though she’s still in her first year, Sophie has already started to think about her future options.
“I’m really looking forward to my first placement and at some point during the course I hope I get to do a rural placement as I’m very interested in remote nursing and definitely want to experience that.
“Then, I’m thinking about a career in paediatric nursing. But I’m also considering further studies as I’m interested in midwifery and paramedicine too.”
And her best advice for other students coming to uni for the first time? Get organised.
“You’ve got to learn to organise your time to stay on top of your studies. It’s just too stressful to leave things to the last minute. So, know your priorities and figure out what’s going to work best for you. I found that making sure I have plenty of rest and downtime has really helped. Sleep is a good thing!”
Learn more about studying nursing at ACU and the benefits of early entry to university via the ACU Guarantee program.