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A career to really squeal about


Isobel and Sarah can tell you exactly what it’s like to have found a satisfying career path. “I’m so happy, I could squeal,” says Isobel.

Still only fifteen and seventeen years of age, Isobel and Sarah love making a difference in the lives of elderly people. They discovered this after starting their Certificate in Aged Care traineeships with National College and Mercy Aged Care Services last year, while still at school.

You might recognise the name Isobel Brosnan. She was featured in one of our most popular blogs last year and is the youngest trainee in NCA history. At just fourteen years of age when she started, Isobel has now finished her course and faces an exciting, positive future. Sarah Offord was in Year 12 when she commenced the same course and, like Isobel, also finished this year. This experience has given both girls practical, paid work experience and coursework that fitted into their school timetable.


“Isobel and Sarah took a chance and selected something that interested them. Now their personal, internal confidence has just blossomed,” says Ruth Comerford from National College Australia.

Both young women were offered permanent part-time work after impressing Mercy Aged Care staff with their mature, professional behaviour during their course. Both are clear-sighted about their future and have plans for further study. For now, however, they’re well ahead of their peers. They have a qualification that allows them to earn above minimum wage and enjoy freedom, independence and responsibility as they transition into adulthood.

While Isobel left school before finishing Year 11 and 12, she feels confident that she has made the right decision. “School didn’t really suit me. Now that I have completed this step along the way to becoming a nurse, I know I can get to my final goal in ways other than through school,” she says. Isobel plans to support herself as an Assistant in Nursing at Mercy Aged Care while pursuing her Certificate IV, Diploma or Enrolled Nursing course. Alternatively, she may do the STEPS Program (Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies) at Central Queensland University in her hometown of Rockhampton before entering a degree course in nursing. She has time to plan the right strategy now that she has finished her first qualification.

Sarah has similar aspirations. She now lives in her own house in town, will save some money and travel a bit this year, and then begin her next course in early 2016.

What work does the Certificate III in Aged Care qualify Isobel and Sarah to do?

The young women’s nationally recognised qualification allows them to work in the following roles:

  • Nursing Assistant
  • Community Care Worker
  • Disability Service Officer
  • Field Officer
  • Personal Care Assistant

Some personal reflections about their experiences in the past twelve months

Isobel: This has really opened my eyes. You see something new every day. I find the end of life, palliative care, very interesting. It’s amazing how quickly things can change and how fast someone might go into end of life care. No two people have the same experience. I feel like I can make a big difference to their lives.

Sarah: Yes, Year 12 was a big year for me last year. I was doing my Certificate in Aged Care, hospitality, early childhood, maths, English and art. My parents live on a property out of town and the schedule made me so tired that I found I had no energy left to study when I got home. To solve that problem I just moved into town with my aunty. It was a great opportunity that I do not regret.

Isobel: I’m a very emotional sort of person, and I can get a bit teary, but I think of the residents as my grandparents. I treat them as if they were. I don’t just do the work I have to do, I sit down and talk to them, spend time with them.

Sarah: One of the guidance officers at Rockhampton High announced that they were looking for people who wanted to do aged care nursing. I’d always mucked around pretending to be a nurse as a kid and was very interested in it. I went for it and one thing led to another. I honestly didn’t think I was going to get it because there was a lot of competition, but I did – and I love it, love it! It’s absolutely amazing.

Isobel: I recently returned to a facility that I hadn’t been to in months and one of my favourites (who I had missed so much) literally squealed as I opened the door. Another resident did a little happy dance. It just makes you feel so good. They give back as much as you give them.

Sarah: I love working with the elderly. I only grew up with two of my grandparents, and one of my grandmothers died when I was very young. So just having them around – it’s so lovely. Some of the things they come out with just makes your day. On State of Origin night, we all watched the game together and it was really great.

Isobel: I feel like I’m really dealing with grown up things while other people who are my age are still doing very teenage things. I talk to one of my old school friends about my job and she’s like “Oh, my gosh! Really?” I really look up to my mum [who is an aged care nurse] and all my senior staff members for everything they have put into aged care.

Sarah: We get them up, paint their nails or even teach them new things on phones or iPods. It’s just amazing to see big smiles on their faces.


Sarah Offord started her Certificate III in Aged Care while in Year 12 at Rockhampton State High School

Contact National College for more information today if you’re interested in any of the following care-based vocations:

Aged care

Disability work

Home and community care

Allied health assistance

Leisure and health

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