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‘Old Gold’ Graduate Story: Luisa Richards (2013)

Luisa Richards (2013) completed a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Adelaide, and Graduate Certificate in Acute Care Nursing (Emergency) at Flinders University and has gone on to work as a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. In this Languages Week ‘Old Gold’ Graduate Story special, Luisa also shares her love for languages and experience studying Auslan Certificates 2, 3 and 4 with TAFE SA.

“I have worked as Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department for 7 years and love the variety of the job – no two days are the same! Our work is so flexible, allowing me to fit a lot of living in around my work schedule,” says Luisa.

“I enjoy trying other areas of nursing, so in 2021 and 2022 I reduced my hours to part-time in the Emergency Department and spent 14 months working part-time for Medibank as a Triage Nurse in the telehealth field. If you’ve ever called HealthDirect for advice, we might have spoken!”

In this role, Luisa worked from home which she says, “was a dream”, although she eventually returned to the Emergency Department because of the eventual isolation she felt working from home.

“I also have a casual job with Event Medical Plus, working at all sorts of events across SA such as Schoolies, the Adelaide Fringe, and the Adelaide International Tennis, and have recently commenced a casual teaching role with The University of South Australia.”

Luisa shares how she finished her Undergraduate Degree in 2015, and was 20 years old when she started working in the Emergency Department.

“It felt like being thrown overboard into the ocean, during a tornado, without a lifejacket – I felt very young to be in the position I was, without any life experience, but thankfully was well supported by wonderful colleagues and grew to love the job,” she expresses.

“Communication skills are the most vital requirement in my job, and I am thankful to have built on these over many years.”

Luisa studied Japanese in high school and explains learning a language in school “was an initial building block for developing strong communication, by learning how various cultures and communities differ.”

Throughout high school, Luisa reveals she had an interest in studying Medicine or Speech Pathology although realised at the start of Year 12 that she “didn’t have the passion or drive behind me to strive for a near-perfect ATAR.”

She explains “once I decided upon nursing, I was able to relax and really enjoy the remainder of my schooling year. I felt extraordinarily supported and encouraged at Nazareth, by both staff and students, academically and personally. I was given so many opportunities that have helped shape who I am as a person, and that I remain grateful for.”

Once Luisa started her studies at TAFE in Auslan she drew upon the Japanese skills she learnt in high school as the grammar is similar in both languages which she found very helpful.

“Since learning Auslan I have noticed a significant, positive change in my communication, having studied non-verbal communication in depth. This has been hugely beneficial in many ways to my work and allows me to connect quickly and efficiently with people from a variety of language and cultural backgrounds,” says Luisa.

“I have found language beyond work has enriched my life in ways I never imagined. Not only is it a beautiful language that the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community graciously share, but it has such strong connections to the culture that has taught me to understand and further appreciate how important our multicultural community in Australia is. Not only has my spoken and signed communication improved, but I feel that my relationships have also grown because I have a deeper understanding and awareness of non-verbal indicators,” she says.

Next on the horizon professionally for Luisa is to complete a Diploma of Auslan which is currently not offered in Adelaide, but she is patiently waiting for this to become an option. She is also hoping to complete a Diploma in Interpreting. She explains “so I can combine my nursing and language skills to provide more inclusive and accessible healthcare for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Luisa says her personal aspiration is “as long as I’m having fun, I’m happy”.

Luisa shares her message for current Nazareth students:

“I hope the class of 2023 can dedicate time to focus on developing their bonds with classmates, build an inclusive cohort who cheer each other on despite their differences, and enjoy their final year together. Year 12 can feel like a never-ending rollercoaster while you’re in the thick of it, but in a decade’s time, all you’ll remember is the fun and friendships.”


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