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TAFE NSW students put to the test on COVID-19 frontline


TAFE NSW students put to the test on COVID-19 frontline

TAFE NSW students undertaking the Certificate III in Pathology Collection are helping to save lives after being enlisted on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in swabbing and testing clinics across Sydney.

TAFE NSW Ultimo student Shanley Duran is working under supervision at Medlab Pathology’s drive-through testing clinic in Auburn and walk-in clinic in Campsie while completing her TAFE NSW course and a Bachelor of Nursing via distance education through Charles Darwin University.

The 20-year-old only moved to Sydney from Darwin last September and is experiencing the pointy end of what it’s like to be a healthcare worker.

“It’s intense, but my TAFE NSW skills combined with this work is shaping me into a better healthcare professional and down the track it will make me a better registered nurse,” Shanley said.

“It’s great training for my future career because I’m interacting with patients in the clinic every day who have different emotional needs. You need to be sensitive – some patients are getting tested for work every three days, there are long waiting lines, and some have complicating medical conditions. It’s fast-paced and challenging work but it’s also an incredible experience.”

Shanley’s teacher, Maja Trajkova, is also the Collections Manager for Medlab Pathology, so when testing went into overdrive after the COVID-19 outbreak in June, she called on students to step up.

“There was a shortage of capacity everywhere due to the level of COVID testing that was required. Many students were already doing their work placement, so they were a fantastic resource to tap into,” Ms Trajkova said.

“We provided the students with training specific to swab collection to upskill them very quickly. This experience is giving them a taste of reality and the importance of the jobs they are training to do. They are applying all their learning in a real workplace right now: PPE, infection control, documentation, patient care and support, customer service – everything.

“The pandemic is very stressful for everyone, but these students are getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to test their skills and their work ethic.”

Shanley said she chose to undertake a TAFE NSW course in addition to her Bachelor of Nursing because she wanted practical, industry-relevant skills that would lead to employment.

“The Certificate III in Pathology Collection opens up more opportunities in the medical field – the skills and knowledge that you learn at TAFE NSW means I can definitely get a job,” Shanley said.

“TAFE NSW is all about teaching us relevant skills for the workplace and I am being taught by people who have been in the industry for decades. The TAFE NSW teachers have worked hard to ensure we can do as many shifts as possible at the testing clinics while still achieving our course outcomes. They are so supportive and are making sure we can study, work, and still succeed.”

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Media contact: Terra Sword, Communications Specialist. Phone: 6623 0325. Email: