Mum’s the word – Kirsten Penney

Kirsten-PenneyAttending University presents challenges, but for many, the end result can be the satisfaction of obtaining the ever elusive ‘dream job’. Our 30 Grads in 30 Days project has illustrated this fact, but the idea is eloquently summed up by midwife Kirsten Penney,

“I can’t believe they’re paying me to do this.”

Kirsten had no idea what to expect when she started University. She began a nursing degree to gain entry into midwifery and was the first in her family to attend University. She also has two children and admits she didn’t really know what Uni would be like.

“I started with the thought ‘even if I fail a few courses, that’s OK, I’ll still finish’. I thought that’s what you did – you didn’t know what you were doing and you just failed,” she said.

“That wasn’t the case. I got lots of support from Griffith and I accessed a lot of the resources there and I ended up getting the academic award.”

Clearly, Kirsten applied herself throughout her degree and made the most of the University’s support network. It helped that she really enjoyed her course.

“After I finished my degree I said ‘even if I don’t work as a midwife, I’ll have an amazing opportunity because the three years were awesome’.”

“Midwifery is very hands on and is something you need to just get in there and do. Griffith gave me so much more experience than any other courses that I looked at,” she says.

Kirsten was invited to join the Griffith Honours College and involved with the Future Students Group as a student ambassador. For Kirsten, her family was a big motivation to succeed at University.

“My daughter started school the year I started Uni, so we were doing stuff at the same time. In my study, we’d have two projects we were doing at the same time up on the wall.”

“It was good for the kids to see me studying and achieving.”

The motivation her family gave her also saw her overcome her fear of public speaking. She was invited to give the Valedictory Speech at her graduation ceremony, and while she initially declined, she admits knowing her family would be in attendance gave her the push to take the challenge.

“Graduation is a very exciting event, but it’s really quick and I thought I would be really disappointed if my family was coming along, my kids were coming along and I didn’t take the opportunity to give the speech,” she says.

While there was also fear associated with transitioning from University to the real world, Kirsten is now a registered midwife at the Gold Coast University Hospital and loves her job. She says Griffith’s clinical facilitator made the process a lot easier.

“When you’re giving up the student role and transitioning into being your own practitioner, it’s a bit daunting. Griffith offered us a great facilitator for the first three months to help with the transition.”

Kirsten is now settled at the hospital and is spending two to three months in each department on a rotational basis. Her diligent work ethic and ability to overcome obstacles has seen her land a job she finds satisfying and personally rewarding. Her long term goal is to move toward a continuity of care model, where she where she looks after the same women from early pregnancy, birth and 6 weeks after the baby is born.

With Kirsten’s apparent success, what is her advice to upcoming graduates?

“Take all opportunities, particularly as you’re transitioning. Don’t knock anything back and have a plan in place for what you want to achieve and get there.”


Kirsten’s top tips

  • Take all opportunities
  • Have a plan in place for what you want to achieve
  • Get as much practical, hands on experience as you can


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