College of Healthcare Sciences

Publish Date

10 May 2019

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Motivated to make a difference

A move to the bush has led Emily Hapgood to a new career, one she’s starting with an award already under her belt after graduating from JCU’s Bachelor of Nursing Science.

Emily’s motivation to become a nurse came with her move to Mt Isa some 10 years ago.

“Living on the coast I had no clue what it was like living out in the bush, then moving to Mt Isa I think that was the eye opener to how disadvantaged some of the smaller communities out here are. I think that pushed me to get involved and do what I could to help,” she says.

On top of her degree Emily took home the Sally Goold prize, recognising her as the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander graduate of the Bachelor of Nursing Science with the highest GPA.

Nurse Emily Hapgood standing next to the Mt Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health sign
Nurse graduate Emily Hapgood training with patient model

“I didn’t actually know I was getting the award until I was called up so that was a bit of a surprise,” Emily says. “I got a bit emotional, but I got through it.”

The award is no accident, and Emily earned it while both studying externally and continuing to work throughout her degree.

“I chose external so I could continue to work full-time, and it just really worked out well with JCU and having the campus here as well,” she says.

“Being external obviously you have to be very self-motivated and stay on top of your studies because you’ve got no one there to force you into it.

“It was definitely challenging, at first, to keep on top of work and full-time study.”

Emily Hapgood below Mt Isa sign
outback road

Finding community through on-campus support

Emily’s study life became easier when she started to visit JCU Mt Isa, which gave her additional support and social opportunities.

“At first I didn’t know much about how to get involved with the campus because I thought being external they wouldn’t want anything to do with me,” Emily says.

“After the first few weeks I made some contacts here at the uni and met some fellow students who are also external. It was good to have a support group here as well and not feel so isolated.”

While Emily’s course was external, she still got to participate in plenty of the on-campus fun.

“The lecturers included me in some of the activities they did here, and just meeting with other students it was good to catch up with them,” she says.

“Getting together and talking through all the stressors we were dealing with just helped to know you weren’t alone and that there was someone else there going through the same thing you were.”

With university in her rear-view mirror, Emily has working life to look forward to, and come February she’ll be doing just that.

“I’ve got a graduate program here in Mt Isa and I’m on a rotation,” the new nurse says. “I’ll do four months in the Emergency Department, four months in Doomadgee, and then four months back here in Mt Isa on the surgical ward.

“I’m looking forward to ED and Doomadgee. I think ED is going to be a good way to start my career, sort of jump straight into the deep end.

“Doomadgee with it being a very remote, small Indigenous community, I’m really looking forward to that. I don’t really know what to expect but I’ve heard a lot of great things about it.”

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