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Newcastle TAFE students to compete on nursing world stage

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Communication, problem solving and empathy skills are among the list of attributes that will be put to the test when two TAFE NSW Newcastle Nursing students compete in the WorldSkills Australia 2023 National Championships later this month. 

Neave O’Reilly and Katerina McNally will represent the former steel city in the competition that has been running every two years since 1950. 

The duo is among nine students from the learning hub’s Newcastle and Maitland campuses to challenge their skills in what is Australia’s largest vocational skills contest.

They will join more than 500 vocational students at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 17 to 19 August, with the winners in the running to be selected for the Australian Skillaroos team to compete against more than 75 countries in France 2024.  

As part of the competition, Neave and Katerina will be tested on critical healthcare worker skills demonstrating self-management, communication, problem solving, innovation, creativity, and empathy. 

Neave said she was proud to be representing nursing on the National WorldSkills stage. 

“This is the first year Nursing will be in the competition, and we expect it to be demanding and to really challenge our clinical skills,” she said. 

“Nurses are the ones who are there 24/7. We’re face-to-face with families, holding our patients’ hands, communicating with doctors and specialists, all while managing the fast-paced clinical work. 

“The WorldSkills competition is very similar to the clinical environment, so I think all the practical experience we’ve gained at TAFE NSW gives us a real advantage.” 

TAFE NSW Teacher Allied Health and Nursing Lynelle Jenkinson said Neave and Katerina were well-placed going into the National Championships. 

“At TAFE NSW, we are focused on getting students job-ready, and they start their practical training in real-world clinical settings early in the course. This can be confronting for some students, so building these skills early builds confident and competent nurses and healthcare workers who can hit the ground running in a workplace,” she said. 

In the lead-up to the competition, Katerina said she feels quietly confident after months of mentorship by TAFE NSW teachers Lynelle and Anne MacLeod. 

“Our TAFE NSW teachers have been so supportive and my confidence as a nurse has grown so much – I’m ready to take on the competition,” she explained. 

“To prepare for this competition we’ve been training with our teachers and other team members in hands-on skills like showering, dressing, and feeding in a clinical setting.

“TAFE NSW takes WorldSkills seriously – we’ve been in training camps and practice sessions so that the minute the clock starts ticking we’re ready to show that we’re the best of the best.” 

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