Blogs (Media Centre)

BAPTISM BY FIRE: TAFE NSW helps Jess thrive on COVID frontline

TAFE NSW Shellharbour

BAPTISM BY FIRE: TAFE NSW helps Jess thrive on COVID frontline

 HELPING HAND: TAFE NSW nursing graduate Jess Marshall has been seconded onto the COVID-19 frontline.

12 October 2021

A TAFE NSW Shellharbour nursing student has described her “baptism by fire” at being thrust into the COVID-19 frontline and revealed the personal pain driving her to become a mental health nurse.

Jessica Marshall, 24, was in the final months of her Diploma of Nursing at TAFE NSW Shellharbour earlier this year when she was offered an opportunity to work at the Max Vaccination Hub in Liverpool, then the epicentre of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Armed with the knowledge and practical skills she had learned at TAFE NSW, Ms Marshall thrived in the high-pressure environment and has since administered vaccines to thousands of people.

“It’s definitely been challenging and at time extremely so, especially with some of the vaccine conspiracies people express,” Ms Marshall said.

“But I felt driven to do something to contribute to the fight against COVID and it’s been an incredible experience.”

Ms Marshall has now enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing at University of Wollongong and has set her sights on becoming an emergency nurse, specialising in mental health. TAFE NSW has a pathways program with University of Wollongong for nursing, meaning Ms Marshall received a full year’s credit for her diploma.

Ms Marshall said a series of injuries curtailed her career and inspired her to work in mental health.

“I had quite a few injuries and they really impacted my mental health,” she said. “I want to now help people who are struggling because of the help I received.”

Ms Marshall said the skills she learned at TAFE NSW would hold her in good stead throughout her career.

“It really has provided me with all the fundamental skills I need to move forward successfully,” she said. “It’s not just the science behind nursing you learn but also the human side, like how to have difficult conversations with patients.”

Australia is currently in the midst of a nursing shortage, with Health Workforce Australia estimating the nation will need an additional 100,000 nurses by 2025 to meet demand.

TAFE NSW Team Leader of Nursing Andrea Purnell said Ms Marshall was one of many TAFE NSW Shellharbour students to secure paid positions on the COVID-19 frontline.

“We were approached by local health districts to encourage students to be part of the COVID workforce and it’s been an incredible experience for many of them,” Ms Purnell said. “Nurses are in such demand at the moment that virtually all of our Diploma of Nursing students already have a job to go to when they graduate.”

To learn more about enrolling in a Diploma of Nursing in 2022, call 13 16 01 or visit

Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, (02) 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428