Divyangana Sharma, or Divya as she prefers to be known, fell in love with Australia many years ago.
As a child in 2011, she visited a relative in Australia and quickly became enamoured with the laid back culture. Another visit in 2017, when she was seriously considering her study options, left her determined to study in Australia.
"I saw a lot of students studying in libraries and cafes and that culture… really stuck with me," she explains. "The environment and the education system really stuck with me."
Hands-on experience a drawcard
Before choosing Holmesglen as her education provider, Divya was unfamiliar with the concept of VET. While researching opportunities to study in Australia, she stumbled across Holmesglen and was impressed with the hands-on experience it offers.
As someone who describes themselves as naturally anxious and over-prepared, Divya found the Holmesglen Simulation Centre particularly appealing. Designed to simulate real-world healthcare settings, the simulation centre allows students to test their skills and knowledge in a life-like environment.
To simulate healthcare settings, actors played the role of patients, and nursing students were tasked with providing care. Divya enjoyed these simulations and felt they helped prepare her for clinical placements.
Divya came to Australia in February 2020, just a few weeks before COVID-19 forced classes online.
Despite this, Divya has made close friends at Holmesglen. She is currently the Chair of the Student Representative Council at Holmesglen and uses her position to advocate for mental health support, one of her passions.
"Maybe it would have been really different…maybe I would have had different opportunities, but I'm really thankful for the opportunities I did get during COVID…I had more time to explore my hobbies."
One of these hobbies Divya explored combined her love of nursing with her love of writing–starting a blog focused on mental health.
While COVID made learning difficult, nursing students continued to have simulations and labs on-campus, allowing Divya to connect with her teachers, many of whom are practising nurses.
The staff's up-to-date and relevant skills and experience benefit the students. "A few of our teachers are ICU nurses…they work full-time and then come and teach us." This means that when teachers share their experience with students, it's an accurate representation of the industry the students themselves will soon be working in.
A key element in Divya's successful transition from the Diploma of Nursing she completed to the Bachelor of Nursing she is now pursuing has been the integration of industry experience.
While working towards her Diploma of Nursing, Divya secured a fellowship with Epworth Hospital and has been able to continue her clinical placement after the transition to her bachelor's degree. She feels incredibly fortunate to have had this opportunity at a time when clinical placements have been challenging to find due to COVID restrictions.
Transitioning from VET to Bachelor
Holmeslgen offers a transition program to help students move from VET to bachelor. Successful completion of the diploma and recognition of prior learning means students can complete the Bachelor of Nursing in two years instead of three.
Divya says Holmesglen’s learning skills centre is especially relevant for international students. "When I first did my assignment, I went to the learning skills centre, made an appointment and got them to see my referencing and [if] I'm on the right track."
Divya explains that the bachelor's degree is a far more in-depth exploration of nursing than the diploma. "Diploma of Nursing touches the surface of nursing, but in the bachelor's, we dive right in."
The assignments are different, too. "You have to use more of your clinical skills…you really have to use your critical thinking skills."
A bright future ahead
Divya says the placements have helped her narrow down what area of nursing she wants to work in. She was keen to work as an oncology nurse, but changed her mind after doing her clinical oncology placement.
"I've done 400 hours of placements", she explains. "I have a clearer picture of where I want to be…when I finish my bachelor's, I really want to go into critical care nursing." Her goal is to do a graduate year in the emergency department or ICU and go from there.
As for where Divya will end up in the future, she says she is open to staying in Australia or moving on. She's interested in travel nursing as she loves to travel and has travelled extensively around India, where she is from.
Divya's determination and passion will see her provide excellent care to her patients wherever her career takes her.
Since featuring in this story, Divya has gone on to win the following awards, click on the links below to read more about Divya's journey so far.
2022 Holmesglen International Student of the Year
2021-22 International Student of the Year - Higher Education, Premier's Award - International Student of the Year