From steel caps and serving our country…to scrubs!

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Registered Nurse Darren Hayes

Meet the men pursuing nursing careers later in life.

Darren Hayes has walked the halls of hospitals on the Sunshine Coast for more than five years as a protective officer - a job that further ignited a life-long interest he’s had in health.

After a career that also saw him serve in the Australian Army, become a carpenter and work in the mines, 44-year-old Darren is back at Nambour Hospital, but this time as a Registered Nurse after completing his degree late last year.

“It was challenging; I am not academic in any perspective whatsoever. I always vowed to never to go to university,” he said.

“But I wanted to challenge myself further, and it shows my kids that nothing is impossible.”

Darren has been placed on ward 4FW (general medicine) at Nambour Hospital.

“I enjoy shift work; it gives you good balance in life. You can have time by yourself while your partner is at work and the kids are at school, and that gives me a chance to go off and dive because I love spearfishing,” he said.

“Nambour Hospital is great – all the wards I go into everyone is so friendly and welcoming. They’re a very team orientated group of people who love working together.”

Darren’s varied career and the life lessons he learnt all contribute to him being the passionate healthcare worker he is today.

“I love working with patients and I love interacting with people. With my years of being in security work, de-escalation is key, so I think those skills and the love I have of talking to people and engaging with them will be a good thing for the wards that I work on,” he said.

Charlie Martin first considered a career in healthcare in 2009, but his first baby was on the way, and it was not the right time. Instead, he spent the last two decades working as a carpenter.

“It was only a few years ago I thought if I don’t do this, I’m never going to do it and it’s been something I’ve wanted to do for such a long time. Nursing was such a better option for me because there were more job opportunities in 2019 when I applied for university and here I am, loving every minute of it,” he said.

Charlie started his 2023 graduate program early at Gympie Hospital in November through the new early on-boarding option on offer.

“My career in carpentry taught me work ethic which I didn’t have when I left school and life experience and I think that’s what served me really well in uni,” he said.

“I was really blown away when I graduated, I got the university medal and I never set out to achieve that I just tried to do the best I could.”

He is currently working in the Acute Surgical Unit.

“I feel so much more satisfied in my job now. Carpentry was good because I enjoyed the work but here I feel so much more fulfilled,” he said.

“I think at Gympie Hospital I’m going to get a really good grounding and exposure to a wide range of nursing experience because I’m not just seeing respiratory patients, I’m also seeing cardiac patients, a little bit of post-surgical stuff. I do really like that, and I think there’s good opportunity here.”

Darren and Charlie are ensuring we continue to grow a strong healthcare workforce across the Sunshine Coast and Gympie.

They both hope to encourage others to pursue a new career later in life.

This year the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service welcomed 146 graduate nurses and midwives.