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Nursing career in sight for mum of seven thanks to TAFE NSW

TAFE NSW Newcastle

Nursing career in sight for mum of seven thanks to TAFE NSW

TAFE NSW is helping budding nurses achieve their career goals, offering different pathways for learners from different backgrounds.  

Killingworth local and TAFE NSW Newcastle Diploma of Nursing student Rebecca McAlister, 42, has long held nursing in her career sights, and she said TAFE NSW was her path to getting there.  

“I always wanted to pursue nursing, but as our family grew, I thought it would be better to hold off studying until the kids were in school,” Rebecca said. 

With seven children aged from six to 22, Rebecca was ready to hit the ground running once her youngest started kindergarten.  

“After two decades, I didn’t want to wait any longer and I knew TAFE NSW was going to be the right pathway to reaching my goal.” 

Rebecca started her journey to nursing with a Certificate III in Individual Support, which led to her current job in aged care.  

“I completed a placement in my first semester and got a job offer soon after. This has allowed me to continue to refine my clinical skills on the job as I continue my studies,” she said. Rebecca then completed Certificate IIIs in Health Services Assistance and Pathology Collection, and a Certificate IV in Medical Practice Assisting.  

“TAFE NSW has allowed me to learn so many great skills and open my eyes to all the possible career opportunities. I enjoy working in aged care, but with so many kids of my own, I’d love to do paediatrics or even work in the neonatal intensive care unit at the new John Hunter Hospital,” she said. 

The new John Hunter Health and Innovation Precinct, due for completion in 2026, will service the population of the Greater Newcastle Region, which is predicted to increase by 22% over the next 15 years. 

TAFE NSW Head Teacher of Allied Health and Nursing Studies, Lynelle Jenkinson, said more nurses are critical to support this growth and starting with a Certificate III is a great pathway to a career in nursing. 

“We prepare all our learners, like Rebecca, for job readiness in more ways than just nursing skills. We mentor them in areas like communication, teamwork, time management – all the essentials to land a good job in health care,” she said. 

Rebecca said the learning environment at TAFE NSW made studying easy. 

“At TAFE NSW, we learn in simulated hospital environments and have access to everything we’ll be using when we start working,” she said. “When I first started, I was second-guessing myself, but once I got in and started the practical, hands-on learning alongside the teachers and other students, I had no worries and my confidence soared.” 

“I really love the support we have from our TAFE NSW teachers – they push you toward bigger and better things,” she said. “And although I’m studying full-time, the scheduling allows me to balance life with work and my kids.” 

Media contact: Emily Graham, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7921 3756