Karen Lythgo has wanted to be a nurse since she was a teenager. Now at 54 years of age, she's about to throw her graduation cap in the air as an Enrolled Nurse.
The mother of five and grandmother of two is among the 13 students who graduated from Mater Education's Diploma of Nursing program in Townsville this week. It’s been a long time coming for Karen.
"When I finished Year 12 I wanted to do nursing but I would have had to move towns (from Port Augusta in South Australia). At 16 years old I was too young to do that so I missed out," Karen said.
"But I have always worked in hospital and medical settings in admin roles since then. I've worked in aged care, cardiothoracics and I'm also a medical typist.
"I feel very comfortable in a hospital."
Karen, who also owns a mechanical repair business with her husband, said she decided in 2021 it was the right time to make a career change into nursing.
"I was at a crossroad.. I thought 'do I get off my bum and do something?'" she said.
"I googled nursing and came across Mater Education's site and enrolled."
While studying, running the business and a household was a challenge, Karen said she's enjoyed her nursing journey.
"I am the eldest out of the group," she laughed.
"We had a small cohort of young ones and mature age students like me and we all get along so well, we are a close-knit group and leaned on each other.
"We've got beautiful lecturers and they were there if you needed them."
As for her post-graduation plans, Karen said she would love to continue working at Mater Private Hospital Townsville where she's currently a casual.
"I've been working as an Assistant In Nursing this year which is really good. It's been an easy transition to placement as you're familiar with how the hospital runs and all the different wards," she said.
"It's great that you can work and learn at the hospital at the same time.
"I still can't believe that I am qualified to walk into a patient's room and look after them. I cannot get over that!"
Are you thinking about a career in nursing? Apply today to start studying in January 2023: https://mater.li/ApplyForDoN
Check out how the graduating class is feeling after finishing the Diploma of Nursing in Townsville: