Be Your Best: Never too late

Friday, November 17, 2023 mental health
Be Your Best: Never too late
If you are considering a career change, Denise says, “Just do it, we all bring something to the team, because we all have different life experience.” Now Denise is a registered Nurse working in Mental Health at age 63.

Denise McFarlane always dreamed of nursing but life took her down various pathways until age 63, she proudly graduated as a registered Nurse.

Following high school, Denise became a mother, an army reservist, a soft tissue massage therapist, a multipurpose sports trainer, a first aider… “I was also an interviewer with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and a TAFE teacher as well, which in turn led to nursing,” said Denise.

Now Denise supports the Extended Care Unit providing treatment and rehabilitation for patients who experience unremitting and severe symptoms of a mental illness.

“Mental Health Nursing provided an area where I could incorporate all my skills and my background, I may not have walked a day in other peoples’ steps, but I’ve certainly walked a lot of different journeys,” said Denise. “It’s never too late to take the leap and change career.”

Denise came to appreciate her lived experience provided transferrable skills in supporting, talking with, and listening to people, and providing a safe space for them.  “And, really listen because perhaps you’re the first person who has listened to that person, and you’re now the only person who can advocate for them if they are unable to speak up for themselves, and for me, that’s quite a large impact to have on a person’s life,” said Denise.

One of the big rewards for Denise is being an integral part of seeing someone ready and feeling confident to go back out into the community. “Knowing that you’ve had some part in helping them on that journey is rewarding.”

“On a typical day, you have your patients who you’re looking after but you’re always part of a treating team, who could be made up of psychiatrists, medical officers, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists; there’s a lot of people involved in the care of a person,” said Denise.

It was a big leap of faith for Denise, who decided to move from Melbourne to Bendigo to join the graduate program here. “It seemed to me the ideal way to not only get to know the area but also get to create a team of friends and fellow workers we can work with,” said Denise.

“The program reinforced and supported any knowledge gaps I had, and the one thing I really enjoyed about the graduate program is they made sure you were prepared and they support you and encourage you along the way.”

“I enjoy the variety of patients and the difference you see when someone is managing better, but it’s also great feeling feel so well supported by the team. Everyone has something different to bring to the team and supports each other to help the patients.”

If you are considering a career change, Denise says, “Just do it, we all bring something to the team, because we all have different life experiences.”

“So just be brave. You’re never too old, because dare I say I had a 30-year gap from when I left high school to the day I entered university - but you are so well supported - and don’t be afraid to do it if is something you’ve always dreamed of. I always had a leaning towards nursing, but never thought I had the background – don’t be afraid to take the leap.”

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