Kaitlyn Nolan (USA)

Kaitlyn Nolan completed a semester of study abroad and took subjects from the JCU Bachelor of Nursing [Pre-registration] program at JCU via a study abroad partnership between James Cook University and Fairfield University in Connecticut, USA.

Why did you choose to study abroad at JCU?

I decided to do this study abroad in the Bachelor of Nursing [Pre-registration] at JCU because of the placement options that we were able to do at the Townsville University Hospital. Placement back at home isn’t as intense as it is here. At JCU, we did placement for two weeks straight. We got to follow the nurse and built a good rapport, and we used a lot of the skills we learned in the lab classes, which I had never done back home. It was a big motivator to apply for this program as I wanted a more hands-on nursing experience.

Another reason to do study abroad is that it was in Australia. I thought, when am I going to be able to come across the world again and live and study? I knew this would be an awesome opportunity and we had several other nurses from Fairfield who were also embarking on the journey together.

Kaitlyn Nolan with her peers from Fairfield University who also participated in the study abroad at JCU.

What have been some of your best experiences?

In general, I feel like my confidence and independence have grown a lot. My nursing skills have also expanded as I have had such a hands-on experience with nurses on the medical floors. I was mainly on the neurology floor, and they said it happened to be the floor with the most acutely ill patients, after ICU. It was an extremely eye-opening experience as I was in an actual hospital setting and worked with real patients in real time. I learned so much from my placement. It was fast-paced and a look into what I might be interested in the future.

I also learned a lot about different medications and how to speak with patients from different backgrounds. I realised how much a nurse really impacts a patient’s life and their families, as you are the last one caring for them in the hospital. It is an experience I will have for the rest of my career.

I have also been volunteering with Brighter Lives which is the official charity partner of the Townsville University Hospital.  It’s hard to get this type of opportunity in the USA so I thought I would stay here until my visa ends and make the most of my time studying abroad. I had to apply and interview for the role, and was accepted into the program. For two months I will be working in the children’s ward every day. I will get to talk with the families and liaise with the nurses and the patients. I am also able to help the nurses out or distract the children while the nurses and get a holistic paediatric nursing experience.

Kaitlyn Nolan on her first day of placement at the Townsville University Hospital.

Outside of uni life, I got to do a bit of traveling around North Queensland. I went to Cairns and snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef, and did a road trip along the coast. When I finish at JCU, I will be doing some more travelling around Australia and will visit Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

What are your career aspirations?

I have two years left of my degree when I return to the USA. I plan on going back to school to become a nurse practitioner in paediatrics.

What is your advice for prospective international students?

As nerve-racking as it can be to move across the world, just go with it. You are going to find your way. I am so much more enriched by this experience. You must get out of your comfort zone and mix with different types of people and experience a different culture and lifestyle. It’s made me appreciate what I have back home. Yes, the first few weeks will be a lot but, as you go along with it, you will find your groove. It will all be worth it in the end!