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You Oon: An unexpected nursing career

When You Oon moved from South Korea to study in Adelaide, she thought she might become a vet and work with Australia’s unique animals. Instead, she decided to study for a Bachelor of Nursing (Graduate entry) at Flinders University. Today, You Oon loves working as a registered nurse in aged care and says talking with the residents reminds her of when she lived with her grandparents. You Oon says there are many opportunities for nurses in aged care, and says she loves working with such supportive colleagues. We spoke to You Oon about her time studying and what it’s been like to work in aged care during a global pandemic.

How did you come to study in Adelaide?

While I was studying in South Korea, I got the opportunity to go to the United Kingdom to study as an international student. After I graduated from my Korean university, I wanted to study abroad again. I went to an international student event, and they recommended Australia.

I preferred a place where there’s less population, not crowded and not as busy as other cities. Which is how I found Adelaide and Flinders University which has a graduate entry nursing program.

 

After studying English literature in South Korea, you came here to study for a Bachelor of Nursing at Flinders University. Why did you choose nursing?

To be honest, at first, I wanted to come to Australia to study veterinary science. Because I find Australian animals quite fascinating. But it was quicker to study nursing because the course has graduate entry, so it only took two years, instead of four. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m pretty happy to be nursing people and want to stay as a nurse.

 

Tell us about your time studying at Flinders University.

When I first came to Australia, I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t have any family or friends here. But I quickly found friends including more than 20 other South Korean students studying the same course as me. They were really, really helpful. We came together to share debriefing sessions after our classes which helped a lot.

The campus here is really safe with good security. I would often stay late at night, and even overnight, in the library where they have good computers.


What’s your accommodation like in Adelaide?

I live close to campus. I found a home through flatmates.com.au while I was still in South Korea.  I had a good landlord and have lived in the same house for four years. Now there are four of us in the house. Most of us are Flinders University students who have graduated and are working now.


Since graduating in 2019, you’ve been working as a nurse. Tell us how you found your job.

It’s the first job I got when I graduated and I’m staying with that same company. I’m lucky I got a job in aged care because when I was studying, I was only interested in aged care and theatre. So, I applied for aged care which I love. I used to live with my grandparents, and I like talking with older people.

When I graduated, I was worried about how I could find a job with no experience. I went to a Flinders University job expo and asked if they hired graduate nurses. They said they did and told me to email them.

The careers team at Flinders helped me with my resume and I did a mock interview to prepare. About a month after I graduated, I had a job as a registered nurse in aged care.


Tell us what it was like making the transition from study to work.

Because I’m a registered nurse, I got to be in charge of supervising beds. It was hard at first. Getting used to being a supervisor when I was a new graduate. I was often supervising people who had worked there for more than 10 years. I was worried, but my co-workers were very supportive.

There are lots of roles for registered nurses in aged care. I’ve tried lots of different things and got promoted to become care director. We have lovely residents and I really enjoy my work there.

 

What was it like working in aged care during the height of COVID-19 restrictions last year?

I was working for about a year before the pandemic.

When everything happened, there were a lot of changes. We had to change our attire. We couldn’t wear any jewellery, not even wedding rings.

We had to hire more nurses for screening people as they came in. We had forms for visitors, volunteers, employees, contractors. Everyone had to be recorded.

We had to get proof of visitor’s flu vaccination. Sometimes people wanted to come in without showing us. But we had our policies and people couldn’t come in without it.

It was hard because residents in palliative care can deteriorate quickly and they couldn’t see their loved ones. And for residents with dementia, it was hard for them to understand why they had to isolate in their rooms.

It was really hectic. We couldn’t have agency staff or have staff members working in other aged care homes. It was complicated, but suddenly it just lifted up.

And soon we will be doing COVID-9 vaccinations.

 

Do you have any favourite places to go or things to do in Adelaide?

I’m a homebody, but I do like that the biggest shopping centre in South Australia is just 5-miutes from my home. I like to go to Brighton Beach which is just 10-minutes from my house. Or the city is just 20-minutes away. It’s nice and quiet where my house is. I want to live here forever. Adelaide is a good place. Nice and a quiet pace which is really good for me.

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