Find silver linings for calm in COVID-19 crisis

Shekina Plowman had her career plans come crashing down with the COVID-19 crisis. But the determined Graduate Certificate in Public Health student is making the most of the tough situation. She shares her advice for stepping up to the challenges – including joining CQUni’s Eat-Chill-Sweat classes!

I finished my Bachelor of Nursing with CQUni last year, and I should have been doing my graduate year right now.

I even got offered two different grad nursing jobs, but then the coronavirus appeared and they had to put recruiting on hold.

Instead, I’m doing further study, my Graduate Certificate in Public Health from home at Noosa Heads – and the lockdown means I have a lot of time to knuckle down and focus on my studies, at least!

Public health is actually an area I’ve wanted to take my career, working with the community, and doing research to support policy-making.

Being really passionate about community health is kind of tough right now because you want to be out there helping, being part of the solution.

But then I realised, the fact there’s not huge demand for nurses right now is a good thing, it means Australia is beating COVID-19.

So instead I’m focusing on what I can achieve, and trying to stick to a plan for getting through the crisis, and getting on with life.

Know your values

I’ve always loved the idea of caring for people.

A lot of my family on my Dad’s side are nurses, and I was really inspired by seeing all they’ve achieved and how passionate they were about their careers.

And then in my degree, I really loved how much CQUni puts into their students, trying to give them unique opportunities to inspire their careers.

In 2017 I did a student placement in India, and that was just so incredible seeing the issues in society, and how the most vulnerable were impacted.

It helped me realise that’s where I want my career to go, working with the whole of community.

And it’s keeping me focused now – I’m spending time designing dream job in my head, and thinking of how I could make a bigger difference.

Ask for help

My Bachelor of Nursing was through online study, so I feel like I’ve been well prepared for studying during the lockdown.

For those just starting out, my biggest advice is: take advantage of online support!

We’re lucky that CQUni is a smaller university, so it’s easier to reach out to a lecturer, or support staff – I’ve had friends at huge unis have had trouble even getting in touch with their teachers.

I’ve appreciated being able to connect with other students through online groups too.

Just talking to each other, brainstorm ideas for assignments as if you are in a face-to-face study group – it all helps you feel more connected.

Stick to the schedule

I’m quite logically-minded, and relatively calm – I didn’t want to go into immediate panic about the coronavirus, so I went through a process of looking at evidence, seeing what information is out there, and calmly going through it.

Having a schedule has the same effect.

Being in lockdown has made me feel very lethargic a lot of the time and it’s so easy to just laze around instead of studying!

So I’ve been sure to designate certain hours to study, do activities, get outside for an hour, and time to relax.

Plus, I’m originally from Canada, and I call my dad back at home every week, which really helps me feel connected to family, and feel confident he’s okay. Thank goodness for technology that we can do that!

Make time for fun

When I’m not studying, making the most of ways to stay in touch with friends, family and other students has made home life a lot more bearable.

I’m in lockdown with my partner who’s doing a Diploma of IT, at CQUni too.

So we’re studying together, and we’ve also both signed up for CQUni’s Eat-Chill-Sweat classes on Zoom – they’re really fun!

We’ve never worked out together before, so logging onto Zoom and doing Workout Wednesday or the Mindfulness Monday meditation is completely different for us.

But you need that distraction, and it gives you a laugh as well – and a chance to connect with students from all over Australia. 

I’m also setting up a garden planter on the balcony, trying to grow more veggies – and doing the Flavour Friday sessions will give me a few more ways to use them!

Focus on the future

The most challenging thing about the crisis for me is not knowing what’s going to happen in the future, when there’s talk this could go for a year, or more.

But reminding myself of where I see myself in the long term helps with the uncertainty now.

Right now, I’m looking up community organisations that I could work for, who go out and deliver health care, research, support – that’s definitely helping get me through.

Even though we’re in lockdown and career opportunities are harder to find right now, it’s going to come back eventually. And knowing that I’m studying towards my goals, it makes a big difference.

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