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CARING KIND: TAFE NSW helps Erica transition from animal to human nursing

TAFE NSW Cootamundra

CARING KIND: TAFE NSW helps Erica transition from animal to human nursing

COMPASSIONATE HEART: Erica Holmes says TAFE NSW made her transition from vet nursing to human nursing much easier.

6 September, 2019

From nursing animals to nursing humans, Erica Holmes says the principles of compassion and care still apply.

Nearly three decades after starting as a veterinary nurse at Leeton Vet Hospital, the mum-of-two had an unlikely career change this year – from caring for animals to caring for people.

With the help of TAFE NSW Cootamundra, Ms Holmes graduated with a Diploma of Nursing in February and is now employed as an enrolled nurse with Marathon Health.

Health Workforce Australia has estimated there will be a shortage of more than 100,000 nurses nationally by 2025, meaning nursing jobs are plentiful.

Nurses in regional NSW are in such demand, Ms Holmes was offered four nursing jobs while still studying, eventually opting for the role at Marathon Health, a not-for-profit registered charity, so she could follow her passion and specialise in chronic health conditions.

Ms Holmes said while working in a vet hospital and a human hospital had its differences, the principles of caring remained the same.

“The biggest difference is that my clients in this job don’t bite,” she joked.

“I really made the change because of job security. In a time of drought, I wanted a job in an industry that wasn’t so ag-based. And I’m passionate about ensuring people in rural areas have access to health services.”

As a Marathon Health care coordinator based in Leeton, Ms Holmes travels across the region and supports people managing chronic health conditions.

"It really is gratifying to help make a difference to people’s quality of life,” she said.

She said studying the Diploma of Nursing at TAFE NSW didn’t just give her the qualifications she needed to find a job, but the confidence and knowledge to do it well.

“The facilities at TAFE NSW were awesome and the teachers were so supportive,” she said. “You could email anytime with a question and it would be answered, and you could even shoot through a draft of your assignment and ask ‘am I on track?’. The learning was very hands-on and the work placement gave you real industry experience before you even entered the workforce.”

TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Nursing Cheryl Bradshaw said nursing was a growth industry that offered great employment prospects and job satisfaction.

“You get to interact with so many different walks of life and you can make a real difference to them, often when they’re at their worst moment,” she said. “If you go to any hospital in the Riverina, you’ll find TAFE NSW graduates providing comfort to patients.”

The Diploma of Nursing is an 18-month course, with students gaining hands-on experience during clinical placements at local hospitals. The Diploma has two intakes annually at both TAFE NSW Cootamundra and TAFE NSW Griffith.

For more information, phone 13 16 01 or visit

Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Media and Communications – Business Partner, 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428.