Husband and wife duo Jacob and Liana Cox have undergone a joint career life change with the aim of becoming nurses in rural and remote communities.
For Jacob, a carpenter, and Liana, a police officer, life is a juggle of raising their two young children, while working and studying. Both started a Nursing Science degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC) Gympie campus this year.
In a few years, the Kenilworth couple intends to face new challenges – at the front line of healthcare in one of Australia’s remote Indigenous communities where they could be the only health professionals for hundreds of kilometres.
“For me, the end game is a really exciting and motivating aspect. To be able to work alongside each other in the nursing profession and share in the highs and lows that come with it, I think that is something quite unique,” Liana said.
Recruiting and retaining a qualified health workforce is an ongoing challenge in rural and remote areas, contributing to the poor health of many who live there, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Jacob, a Bidjara man born in south west Queensland, said the extreme disparity between healthcare in metropolitan and rural and remote areas is concerning.
“It’s about recognising that it’s a privilege to live in areas such as South-East Queensland, with a wide array of health services at our fingertips,” Jacob said.
“That is really lacking for Indigenous Australians who are geographically isolated from the services they often need.
“We want to make a difference to the outcomes of Indigenous people in remote areas by providing person-centred care and culturally-safe healthcare and education,” Liana said.
Making meaningful connections and empowering and supporting people, often when they are at their most vulnerable, that makes the switch from policing to nursing a natural career pivot for 29-year-old Liana.
“Both careers have the common element of providing a service to the community. This is an aspect of my job that I find really rewarding and it gives me a great deal of job satisfaction,” she said.
Jacob, aged 28, has worked in construction since doing work experience in the industry in Year 9, and said it was an enormous step to pick up the study books.
“It is something I have wanted for a long time but never thought it would be a possibility for me. After being in the building industry for so long, applying to university to become a nurse felt like such a drastic change.”
“Having a young family and the need to remain working full-time to be financially stable made studying seem out of reach. I wasn’t sure if I would be accepted into the course, I just decided to give it a crack.”
Jacob is studying part-time while working full-time as a site supervisor. His ultimate career goal is to become a midwife.
“Our experiences in the hospital setting during Liana’s pregnancies and post-partum, have steered me down this path. I want to offer patients, their babies and families skilled, knowledgeable and compassionate care.”
The couple are both nervous and excited in their new journey.
“We are very fortunate that both of our families live close by and provide unwavering support when we need it. Additionally, we have each other to lean on. Studying together gives us the opportunity to keep each other motivated,” said Liana, who is on maternity leave from the Queensland Police Service.
For more information, visit UniSC’s Nursing science programs.