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Amber Duthie

U-Skills Health Graduate

A photograph of Amber Duthie

For Amber Duthie, the U-Skills Health programme was the perfect stepping stone into the Bachelor of Nursing degree.

With a mum who's a pharmacist and a dad who works as a pharmaceutical wholesaler, Amber always felt she would end up doing something related to healthcare. While at Feilding High School, Amber heard about UCOL's U-Skills Health programme, which put her on the path to a career in nursing.

"Some UCOL staff came and talked to us about the Health programme, and the subjects it covered were just what I wanted. Level 3 Biology in high school doesn't cover human anatomy or anything related to nursing per se, so the U-Skills course was really good for bridging the gap between school and what I'd learn in a nursing degree."

Amber enjoyed how the programme covered a range of topics like nutrition, anatomy, exercise, and mental health. It also gave her a good understanding of Te Whare Tapa Whā health model, which encompasses taha tinana (physical health), taha wairua (spiritual health), taha whānau (family health), and taha hinengaro (mental health).

"We spent a lot of time in the gym learning about conditioning and how the human body works, which was fun. Another thing that stood out was learning different mental health conditions and coping mechanisms. As a teenager, it was good to learn these things and have tools for helping other people."  

"Each week we did something different and the day was structured differently to school; it was more free-flowing and if we needed more time to cover a topic we had it. It's a different way of learning at UCOL compared to school - it's very hands-on, which is the way I learn best."

Now studying the Bachelor of Nursing, Amber says doing a U-Skills programme set her up well to transition into fulltime study at UCOL. It was great to already know the campus and some of the staff.  

"The U-Skills programme also gave us an introduction to academic writing and APA referencing, which really helped when it became time to do my first Nursing assessment. They didn't cover it fully, but laid a good foundation."

Amber is excited to see what her degree studies bring and the doors it will open.

"At the start I wanted to go into paediatric or mental health nursing, but as the lecturers have explained all of these different areas of nursing, I haven't picked a specialty. I'm going to learn so much over the next three years so I'll see what I want to do."

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