SHE already makes a difference to her patients daily, but juggling work in the wards with study has given CQUniversity student Katrina Muller a career boost to benefit the whole region.
The Gladstone mum has worked as a nurse since the 1980s, but taking on her Graduate Diploma of Mental Health Nursing was her first foray into university.
"When I studied nursing, it was through hospital training, and all our learning was block study in the hospital," she explained.
"I've done short courses since then, but this was my first time at uni - so it was a steep learning curve."
Katrina's determination to upskill was driven by her love of the job - and the need for more skilled mental health practitioners in the region.
"I think society has changed so much locally. There's definitely more demand for help," she said.
"There's a lot more people in the community who are going through a tough time, and because they've moved here for work, they don't have the usual family networks to help them through - so they can feel quite isolated."
Katrina said her children, aged nine and 14, were a bit bemused by the idea of mum going back to school, but after a few shared study sessions, she said they were impressed.
"I think it shocked them that adults might have homework, too," she said.
But Katrina has thrived, graduating with honours, and is determined to do a CQUniversity's Masters of Mental Health Nursing next, so she can upgrade her career to credentialled mental health nurse.
"I really love my job, and the Graduate Diploma means I can expand the role in an area I'm really passionate about."
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