University life can sometimes feel overwhelming, so at Torrens University we pair each student with a Success Coach. From Orientation Day right through to your graduation, your Success Coach will be with you, to offer support and practical advice, to listen when you have a problem, and help you achieve your goals.
Nursing Success Coach, Ria Thomas, is a highly experienced nurse herself, so she understands the many demands of studying and nursing. Based at our new Surry Hills campus, Ria works with students at every stage of their Nursing courses.
The role of a Nursing Success Coaches for Nursing students
‘My job is about supporting, motivating and empowering the students throughout their study journey. I see myself as someone who the students can turn to for guidance, to help them keep on track with their goals, and ultimately to help them become that successful nurse they hope to be at the end of their studies.’
‘As their Success Coach, I support students with one-on-one coaching sessions and by providing a space where they can talk to me about their individual needs or their career aspirations. And if necessary, I can refer them to the other support services within the university. As well, I often invite students to attend workshops on topics such as improving their study productivity, self-care and employability.’
‘Through my experiences with uni and clinical work, I can talk with students about the connection between their university education and what it will actually be like to work as a registered or enrolled nurse. While some students are really excited about their work and study, others find it quite daunting. So we have conversations that will help them discover their full potential. Identifying what they're good at in this way is satisfying and effective. I encourage students to reflect on why they chose to enter the Nursing profession, and then that core reason can keep them motivated to progress along and achieve their dreams.’
‘I believe the Success Coaches are unique and special to Torrens. When I look back at my uni years, I wish I’d had the support of a success coach; someone who could have helped me understand what university life is like, as well as connecting me to the Nursing profession.’
How the partnership between Success Coach and Nursing student begins
‘Each student is allocated a dedicated success coach when they enrol. Early on I let them know that I am a nurse and I've been a student and I've got a family of my own, so I build a connection with them and a professional relationship. Through this they realise that I've walked the same road and understand what it's like to have conflicting priorities, for example. Sometimes I drop into their classes just to see how they're going. I tell them about upcoming coaching workshops or industry events to get them to engage in that side of things.’
What led Ria to become a Nursing Success Coach for Nursing students?
‘Well, I have a nursing background in critical care. I worked in this specialty area for over ten years in one of the major hospitals here in New South Wales in the emergency department. And during that time I had a lot of opportunities to mentor nursing students from universities when they were out on their clinical placements. I felt inspired by their growth and determination during those placements. It was also a good reminder for me about why I entered the profession and what it was like for me early on – all the nerves, the excitement, the adrenaline. So that really drew me to want to do something within Nursing education.’
‘I went on and I did my Masters in Nursing, got a job as an academic for a couple of years here at Torrens. Then I decided to enter the coaching space. As a Success Coach, I can create meaningful connections with the students and help them identify what their strengths and abilities are. I work with them to overcome any challenges they may have and to build their confidence. Along the way, I enjoy seeing them develop their own professional identity.’
What stands out as a common experience for many Nursing students?
‘Many students are worried about failure, and I can understand this. I work with them to change that feeling, so they realise that failure is not a bad thing. It's not a negative thing. We all go through ups and downs and make mistakes; coming to terms with that is probably one of the keys to being successful. Realising this has helped me. That shift in mindset, as well as building your own self-belief can really turn things around. In my nursing career, it's often those things that I failed or was not successful in that I've learned from.’
‘To those students who are worried about failing, I’d say, don’t give up. If they fail one assessment or one subject, they think it's all over, but I tell them that it's all part of the process, it's part of the journey to becoming successful. It's not the end of it. I remember a quote that says true failure is when you stop trying. So keep trying, you’re going to get there. If there’s something you really want to achieve, seek out the right support to help you and don’t give up.’
As a nurse, an academic and a Success Coach, what would you say to students that are starting their Nursing Degree?
‘Dive into it. Nursing is a diverse and dynamic profession, and it’s so, so rewarding. I feel honoured to be a nurse because I see it as a privilege to be able to care for people, particularly at their most vulnerable times in their lives. The greater community puts their trust in nurses to advocate on their behalf and provide the best quality of care. Also, your options in this space are almost endless. There are so many different specialties that graduates can work in, and they may also choose to branch out into education, management, or go into research by completing further postgrad qualifications. There really are so many options.’