Every day is different in acute and complex care. Cardiorespiratory nurse Kristel takes pride in caring for her patients comprehensively and undertaking new and diverse challenges.

My name is Kristel and I studied the Graduate Certificate in Nursing Practice, with a focus on cardiorespiratory.

I fell into nursing because a friend suggested it to me. It wasn't until I did a rotation on a medical surgical ward that I knew that it was absolutely what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. From then on, I've stayed in general medicine and specialised in cardiorespiratory.

My favourite part of the job is the diversity and the room to grow within the hospital, within the world, within nursing itself.

It’s a really acute and fast paced profession, but I enjoy the complex care that comes with it. I'm always learning something new. There’s always a new challenge, and I find it really exciting, every day. One of my philosophies is: if it's worth doing it's worth doing right. I just put my best foot forward and I pick up a lot of roles on the ward.

My favourite part of the job is the diversity and the room to grow within the hospital, within the world, within nursing itself, even specialising in cardiorespiratory. You can go into research and education, and there's never-ending study — there’s no limit to what you can do.

To me, the key quality of being a nurse is definitely a thirst for knowledge. Teamwork is a huge part of nursing as well. Being able to get along with a diverse network of people is key to your entire career.

What I like most about being a cardiorespiratory nurse is being able to handle complex situations and actually understand what is going on with my patients. A typical day for me is: once I've received my patients in hand over, we check in on our telemetry patients — we need to make sure they have daily CGS. We're going to listen for cardiac sounds, and for lung sounds in our respiratory patients as well. The course has definitely taught me how to do that better and how to recognise what I'm actually listening for and what to do about it as well.

We get a lot of proud moments as nurses, from mastering the simple clinical skills that we couldn't do before, to teaching students things in a way that they can understand and they're going to be able to use for the rest of their career.

Once I met a patient who told me the worst dad jokes and all I did was just laugh. It was wonderful to look after him. Eventually, his disease got the better of him and he became palliative. We had the privilege of looking after him at that time. I wasn't there when he passed away, but his family came in later and they brought in a notebook where he had written down his always terrible jokes and titled it “Keep smiling”. I still have that book to this day.

To me, the key quality of being a nurse is definitely a thirst for knowledge.

When family members and patients approach us and they’re really happy with the care that we’ve been giving, even if it’s just been basic bread and butter nursing care, it makes us very proud. I think it’s always a special feeling to know that you’ve made a difference to them.

In my ward I've got telemetry units and lots of cardiac and respiratory chronic patients. Once I was comfortable giving the care to those patients, I found myself asking: Why am I doing this? How can I make it better for them? Because they keep coming back. So I chose to study acute complex cardiorespiratory to give me a deeper knowledge and understanding of how best to give care to the patients I keep seeing.

It's helped me to comprehensively and holistically look after my patients have a deeper understanding. I am able to explain things to colleagues that may not understand why we do things, and educate students and other colleagues.

Once I met a patient who told me the worst dad jokes and all I did was just laugh. It was wonderful to look after him.

We once had a patient who was quite unwell, but she was being non-compliant with all our care. I approached her and asked her what was going on. No one had actually explained to her what her diagnosis was, or what to do about it. I was able to sit down with her and explain everything about her diagnosis, about her medications, about the care and the interventions. We even worked out a plan for when she went home that she could carry on and where she could get help afterwards. To me that was a really big moment in my career — that I was able to sit down and do that holistically, as a full care plan for her.

My experience with the University of Melbourne has been fantastic, they’ve been so supportive throughout the whole thing. All our professors, all our teachers, they've been really relatable, and they're in the field, so they know exactly what's going on and everything is relevant to what you're doing. One of the best takeaways throughout the whole course was utilising our critical thinking on a daily basis, being able to apply that to everything. We used case studies from our own ward, so it was completely relevant to everything that we do.

The advice that I would give to students coming into this course is to get in contact with the other students that are doing the course, either via the forum or any other means — because they're going to be your strongest network throughout this.

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