Registered Nurse and 2018 Mike Kelly Bursary recipient, Michael Ruutz, has had a career that is anything but boring. By the time he was in his mid-20’s, Michael had been a butcher, a timber grader, a postie and a youth worker.
In his early 30’s, Michael moved to the Northern Territory where he decided to take on study at university, and enrolled in a Bachelor of Nursing at CDU, completing an intensive degree within two years. This led him to various roles as a Registered Nurse in Surgery, DEM, Paediatrics and then as the Chronic Conditions Nurse Educator in Indigenous Health, and finally as the Clinical Team Leader within the Darwin Prison. He also worked in England and Africa in 2004 with his wife, setting up a health clinic in a Kenyan orphanage.
In 2011 Michael and his wife Liz adopted three children from Taiwan. “This was a very busy time for us, with me working full-time and on-call, and taking on three gorgeous children who at the time, didn’t speak any English. Shortly after the adoption, Liz became pregnant with identical twins, so we made the decision in 2015 to come to the Sunshine Coast, to be closer to our family in Queensland.” Michael said.
Upon the couples return to the Sunshine Coast, Michael took off to raise the children while Liz returned to her career as a Registered Midwife at the Nambour General Hospital in Paediatrics and Maternity Ward. Liz now continues at SCUH in the Antenatal Clinic, and teaching Childbirth Education.
A few years later, with five children, three of which were still in nappies, Michael returned to work and accepted a part-time role within the Paediatric Department at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
“While I was an experienced Registered Nurse in Paediatrics in the NT, I hadn’t received any qualifications. In Queensland, caring for paediatric patients who are at high risk of deterioration requires staff to hold a Graduate Certificate in Paediatric Nursing, so I applied to The University of Tasmania to study remotely.”
With tuition fees close to $4,000, the couple were concerned with how they were going to fund Michael’s further education.
“With both my wife and I working part-time, five children and a mortgage to pay, we were at a loss as to how we could afford for me to return to studies. It was at this time that Liz suggested that I apply for a grant through Wishlist.”
With help from the Nurse Unit Manager for Women’s and Families Services, Anne-Marie Holmes, Michael submitted his application for Wishlist’s Mike Kelly Scholarship.
“We figured, even if we received a few hundred dollars, this would help us for a few grocery shops to keep food on the table.”
The Mike Kelly Scholarship is given each year in honour of Wishlist Chairman Mike Kelly. Under his guidance Wishlist has raised more than $18 million for local health services, currently committing $1million to local health needs each year.
The inaugural Mike Kelly Academic Scholarship is designed to enable Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service Staff to apply for financial support to participate in relevant Undergraduate or Post Graduate studies offered through university or the VET sector.
“On the day I won the award and was given the grant funding, I suspected something was happening. Quite a few of the other Paediatric nurses were telling me to make sure that I took my lunch break at a specific time. I think even a few of the patients were in on it too. So when I walked into the lunch room and saw a group of my workmates, my wife and kids there, Mike Kelly and a few of the Wishlist team I knew it was about the funding application. But I still only expected it to be a few hundred dollars.”
“When I realised that the grant was for the full tuition amount, I immediately felt a weight lift off my shoulders. I thought WOW, now we can relax a little bit knowing that we don’t have to struggle to find the money to pay for this”.
Two years on, Michael has graduated with a Graduate Certificate of Nursing (Paediatric Nursing), with distinction. This certificate allows Michael to specialise as a Paediatric Nurse, and care for children and their families with a variety of needs and illnesses.
“Winning the Mike Kelly Bursary has really helped my nursing career. With the new qualification, I have increased knowledge and confidence in my care, and am now acting in team leadership roles within the Paediatric Department. The further training has not only extended my knowledge base, it allows me to help my colleagues and the student nurses as well. I feel personally empowered to not only deliver exceptional care for our paediatric patients, but I now feel confident that I can help empower my fellow colleagues.”
“I urge any staff member from the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, who are interested in attending career development days or furthering their education, to apply. The process is simple, you complete the forms online, and give certain forms to your line manager who will do all the advocating for you. I strongly encourage staff to apply. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Just GO FOR IT!”
Wishlist’s Academic Scholarships are open once a year in October.
CLICK HERE to find out more, or to apply.