Ask a Nerd!

Since I am well-known amongst my peers as being something of an Internet junkie, I am frequently asked to provide information to my friends about various things. It isn’t that they are incapable of finding out what they need to know, nor is it that they are lazy or want to take advantage of me. Instead, it is simply because I love information and actually enjoy doing research on just about any subject.

Recently, a friend of mine who is thinking of spending a year in Australia asked me to find out what I could about the different job opportunities that might be available to him. He has a college degree but no formal experience or training for anything other than an office job. However, he is not looking to establish a residence in Australia-he just wants to be able to work and earn some money while he is there.

He almost made this sound like a challenge to me. You know, one of those “I bet you can’t…” scenarios. He really did not think I would be able to give him any truly useful information! Apparently he doesn’t know me as well as he thinks he does!

There are actually many different job opportunities in Australia for people with no experience or even college degrees. It is simply a matter of not being picky and of being willing to do some of the jobs that no one else wants to do!

For someone like my friend who is only going to be in the country for a predetermined length of time, I focused my search on jobs that could be considered temporary. For example, he could find work in the following areas:

  • Hospitality-while being a waiter might generate the most income in terms of tips, there are many other jobs like housekeeping, maintenance, and janitorial services.
  • Tourism-Australia depends on tourism for a significant portion of their revenue, so there are nearly always jobs available in places where tourist congregate. From working in a gift shop to providing a taxi service, the choices are endless.
  • Construction work-As the global economy improves, there is more construction work going on than there has been in years. From building new offices to refurbishing homes, there are a variety of jobs for unskilled laborers.

One of the best websites I came across while researching jobs for my friend and the safety course he would need (white card) was It provided a plethora of information about the construction industry and the training people might need to perform different jobs.

I find it very interesting that there is actually a certification that anyone working on a construction site needs in order to get a job. In fact, in some cases everyone who even walks onto a construction site has to have this certification! It is called a white card, and you have to take a course (either online or in person) and pass a test to receive the card!

Although I am not sure what my friend will decide when it comes to choosing a job while he is in Australia, I am confident that I was able to provide him with a lot of useful information. That, and the fact that I met (and exceeded!) his challenge, serve to make me a very happy nerd today.

Step By Step

As I mentioned some weeks ago, I recently received my nursing certificate that I had been working on for some time. This was a huge milestone in my life, and I have already started benefitting in my job (I recently enjoyed a nice little pay bump). I’ve had a few of my readers here ask about how I got started in nursing and asking if there is any advice I would offer to those interested in making the leap into the medical field. Here’s my story.

Most people actually don’t know this about me, but my first introduction into the field of medicine was shortly after I had just graduated from high school. I got a part time job as a receptionist for a local chiropractor and while I was working there, the billing person in our office came down with a terminal illness and was not able to continue employment with us. We were unable to promptly find someone to replace her and so I was forced to quickly start figuring out the billing side of the business. Most of our patients were billed through insurance and I cannot describe the headache that I first encountered while trying to figure it all out. Lucky for the provider I was working for, not only am I a quick learner, but I can read anything. I found a textbook entitled “Step-By-Step Medical Coding” by Carol J. Buck, and I plowed through the material as quickly as a I could. Since I was completely new to medical billing and it can be a very technical subject, I actually had to read through the text a few times before I really understood everything.

To make a long story as short as possible, I quickly learnt enough to get by. My boss at the time saw my potential and offered to pay for me to get a coding certificate offered by a nearby community college if I continued working for him for a minimum amount of time. I took the deal and became proficient as a coder. A couple of years after I got my coding certificate, I left that chiropractor’s office to work for a hospital who was willing to pay me much more. I was actually making some really good money in the billing department (You can check HERE to see the salary range for medical billers and coders), but after working very closely with the nurses in the hospital and seeing the changes they were making in others’ lives, I felt “called” to become a nurse myself.

Everyone has their own talents and abilities, but here is the advice I would give someone looking into having a career in the medical field: Go the medical billing route first! You can get your foot in the door much easier that way and you can also get a really good feel for what to expect from other jobs within the field. For anyone wanting to learn about medical coding on their own, I highly suggest “Step-By-Step” textbook. It’s not an easy read by any means, but when it comes to coding you won’t find an easy read. It will, however, give you all of the information you need in a very organized format. Although it might take a few readings, it can help you learn virtually everything you need to know.

Late Night Reading

This last week my family was able to celebrate the birthday of my oldest son. Anyone with children (especially older kids) knows how hard it can be to go shopping for the perfect present. Luckily, this year it was actually very easy to choose a gift. My son is going through a phase right now where he is really into astronomy and staying up late staring into the night sky. I admit I’m the one who sparked it all by reading an interesting little book I came across in our garage entitled “NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe” by Terence Dickinson.

I had taken an “Intro to Astronomy” class in college and found the subject to be really interesting. I ended up purchasing “NightWatch,” as part of the course curriculum but I never got around to reading it. It had it sitting in my garage for at least 5 years, but coming across it again re-sparked my interest.

I must say that this text is very thorough and goes into great detail all about constellations, telescopes, and the history of sky watching. Usually books that are this comprehensive can be hard to get through for people who aren’t experts on the subject, but I found this to be a relatively easy read. It is definitely a book that will be enjoyable if it’s read in conjunction with some sort of star gazing activities, so as to apply the information that you are learning.

At the time I was going through this book we did not own a telescope, so my night activities began with pulling out some old binoculars. Pretty soon my oldest son decided that he was going to join me. As I would point out constellations and planets I would show him pictures from the book, and his interest in astronomy really took off. Pretty soon binoculars didn’t seem like enough.

Thankfully his birthday was coming along and we could justify spending a little money to help support his new fascination. He only wanted one present this year – a telescope. We were still pretty new to all of this astronomy stuff, but we did know a little bit about what to look for. We wanted a nice sturdy portable mount and a decent-sized aperture. We found an online buying guide for telescopes  that helped us compare scopes that were in our price range. After searching through the reviews and doing the comparison we were able to feel pretty confident in our choice.

To make a long story short, we decided to go with an Orion, and our kid couldn’t have been happier. There have been many late nights since, and this is a hobby that could potentially turn into more. It may be a little too early to tell, but we’re hoping that this passion persists as it has really helped our son to come out of his shell, and he seems to have a real knack for understanding this astronomy stuff. Either way, if nothing more it’s just another testament to how much influence just one good book can have!

Best Nursing Book To Study


It’s been a while since my last post, and that’s because for the past few weeks I have only been been reading one book, “The Fundamentals of Nursing” by Patricia A. Potter. Now this isn’t the type of book that I generally review, but I have been known to talk about books that I read for educational purposes (or really any material that I read for any purpose!).

I’m actually currently studying to take one of my nursing exams, and have been doing as much last minute cramming as possible. This is a book that I actually have from one of my early days in schooling, but it’s always been very helpful to me to review as I prepare for tests. Much like the “For Dummies” books, it explains things in a very easy to understand way. The author assumes that her audience is a bunch of amateurs who know very little about the subject matter. Continue reading