Jessica Layton wanted to do something meaningful with her life. She wanted a purpose. She wanted to help people.

A career in nursing allowed her to tick all those boxes and more!

“It’s rewarding being able to help people,” she says. “It just feels good.”

Jessica was doing VCE at high school when she decided to follow her heart and study VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) Nursing.

“For me, it was the best decision I made,” Jessica says. “I was starting to get sick of VCE. I knew what I wanted to do and I wanted to pursue that, so when I got in I was rapt!”

The VCAL Nursing accredited secondary certificate allows Year 12 students to start their Diploma of Nursing, which can be completed the following year.

Students can do the first six months of the Diploma of Nursing, spread over 12 months, in addition to completing Year 12 (which they must pass in order to continue with the Diploma).

Upon completion of the Diploma, students are eligible for registration as an enrolled nurse in Australia.

Jessica says VCAL Nursing was the perfect fit for her. She loves that it allowed her to ‘start early and get ahead’.

“I was doing two days a week of Year 12 and three days of nursing, which worked well for me,” she says. “I’d switch between nursing and my Year 12 work, and it just broke it up. It made Year 12 so much easier and more enjoyable.”

Jessica says while some of her peers at her high school struggled to stay motivated, she felt quite the opposite.

“They were doing VCE and struggling and some gave up on their university dreams,” she says. “They were feeling really unmotivated because of COVID, but I felt amazing because I was already doing what I wanted to do. I was already studying what I wanted to be.”

One of the highlights of the learning experience at Chisholm for Jessica were the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

“I like hands-on learning,” Jessica says. “There’s still a lot of theory involved in nursing in general, but the labs and the practical side really appealed to me.”

Jessica proved to be a standout student at Chisholm and was nominated as Secondary Student of the Year at the Chisholm Education Awards.

She now works in aged care as a nursing attendant. Jessica plans to further her study by doing a Bachelor’s degree to become a Registered Nurse.

Jessica’s message to other aspiring nurses was to follow their dream and tread their own path.

“VCE isn’t the only way to get to where you want to be,” she says. “You don’t need your ATAR score necessarily, you can opt for other options like this. And you can still go to university in future. TAFE is an option, and it’s a good one.”