“Make sure the pathway you start on will lead you to where you ultimately want to get”, advice that was given to Lee White by a colleague has seen her work towards a Graduate Diploma in Business through the Open Polytechnic so that, as a nurse manager, she can move forward in her career.
A nurse since 1987, Lee, who moved to New Zealand with her family from the UK 8 years ago, decided to study again as she has been a “lifelong learner”.
Working as a nurse manager of an intensive care unit, Lee manages a team of highly qualified nurses, who care for critically sick patients. Working in the private sector means that the key to success, in addition to providing excellent health care, is to be a successful business.
“To keep up to date in an ever changing profession like nursing you need to be learning all the time,” Lee explains, “I wanted to study something different and be able to apply new knowledge to my job. I also have two children and wanted them to understand that you don't just learn when you are at school. Learning is ongoing.”
With a Degree in nursing, the equivalent of a Post Graduate Diploma in Intensive Care Nursing and a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Assessing (nursing), Lee says she has found distance learning to be the perfect option for both her and her husband, who is currently studying towards a degree through the Open Polytechnic too.
“I can study when and where I like, at 5am, in bed, at work. I can fit it in around a busy family. I really enjoy distance learning rather than classroom learning as I can plough on and get loads done when I have time, and then be able to pause when life gets busy. This time round has been great as I was well in to studying and then we moved to a house that needed completely renovating,” she explains.
“Both my husband and I decided to put study on hold to do the house up and gave ourselves a couple of years off. So now it is very exciting to be thinking about study again. The Open Polytechnic has been fantastic, the resources are excellent, the fees are very reasonable and the online support has always been good. Tutors are very approachable and supportive and feedback on assignments is always very good.”
In addition to being able to fit in study around life, Lee says she has enjoyed the relevance the courses have to her current position.
“It allows me to think differently about my job, I have a more global view of business and have more to offer at work. This has been noticed by my employer so can only be a positive. I would like to become a hospital manger or clinical operations manager one day. The study has certainly given me the confidence to be able to realise this.”
Lee says she would share the same advice with any prospective student, as she was given.
“You may decide that you only want to complete a diploma, but once you have gained the confidence you would probably want to do a degree, so make sure the path you take can enable you to do this,” she says.
Lee hopes to complete a MBA one day.
“When I first started studying through the Open Polytechnic, I just wanted to do a couple of management courses, but with my colleague’s advice I have been able to continue studying and move forward.”
Wanting the confidence to challenge herself and a career to provide for her children, Ann Tapara began her journey with a Bachelor of Applied Science through distance learning at Open Polytechnic, laying the foundation to later gaining a Masters degree and becoming a fully registered clinical psychologist.
From doubting her own abilities to launching a wellbeing programme for young women in Wellington - Open Polytechnic graduate Fran McEwen has come a long way since she dropped out of high school at the age of 16.