Surviving exams with a broken arm

It took breaking an arm for Aimee Williams to realise just how strong she is. 

The Veterinary Science student was working on a horse stud in Victoria in November 2019, when a yearling reared up and struck her arm. Aimee suffered a break above the elbow joint and needed a plate with several screws to fix the bone. Eight weeks later — ahead of practical exams and placements — her arm was still set at 90 degrees and was very weak.

“It was a very stressful time,” Aimee says.

“I couldn’t even wash or brush my own hair. I wasn’t allowed to drive. I was pretty incapable.”

Aimee considered taking a year off her studies, but decided to continue after contacting Charles Sturt’s Disability Services for support. The team advocated on Aimee’s behalf to arrange a scribe, deadline extensions, and special considerations to allow her to move around during online exams.

“Taking a year off wouldn’t have really made my situation any better, it would have just taken uni out of the equation. With a few adjustments, I didn’t need to do that. 

“It’s definitely been a challenge. It is what it is and I can’t really change it, but there are little things I can do to make it more doable.”

Aimee says Disability Services’ efforts reduced her stress about completing exams in the same timeframe as other students.

“I think if I didn’t have that I would have felt really under the pump and it would have made the exams [worse].

“It wouldn’t have been the content I would have been stressing about, it would have been ‘how much am I going to be able to type everything in the allotted time’?”

Aimee says she’s glad she continued her studies with the help of the service, especially after a mentor in the veterinary industry warned her injury could cost her career.

“He was like, ‘It’s not just your arm that’s the issue here, it’s your whole career if you don’t get it right’.

“Had that vet not said that to me I probably would’ve been rushing to get back to what I wanted to do on summer holidays and that might not have been in the best interests of my long-term health and recovery.

“It was really something important that needed to be said.”

As Aimee heads into fourth year, she has ambitions to work in rural and regional areas.

“I’ve had horses since I was 7 and I just like working outside and doing something different.

“What I really like about it is the diversity of the job and that you wear a lot of hats in the community.

If anything, her injury has only made her more determined.

“I learnt that day that I am a lot stronger than what I thought.”

*The name Aimee Williams was used to keep the source in this article anonymous.