Natural Health Heroes: Switching careers to natural health when you’re in your forties

Written by Endeavour College of Natural Health | 18 November, 2019

Audra Starkey had spent 20 years in aviation as a shift worker when she enrolled in a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine) at Endeavour. She had been working as a trainer for Qantas when she had an epiphany.

“I was about to deliver some training sessions when a staff member arrived late and was holding a hamburger, doughnut and soft drink. It was only 9am. When I said to her, ‘that’s an interesting choice for breakfast,’ she replied, ‘I’ve been up since 4 am and I needed some sustenance.’ That was the moment I realised that I was teaching employees how to do their job, but no one was teaching them how to stay healthy during shift work,” Audra said. “I knew I had to do something about it, but I also knew that meant I needed to study, and, in my late thirties and early forties, that was terrifying.”

Audra attended an Endeavour College information evening and there one of the speakers had switched from a corporate career to natural health. “I thought, ‘if she can do it, I can.’ Endeavour offers online subjects, and that’s how I started,” Audra said. “I studied around my work roster. It gave me a chance to check if it was possible and if I liked it. Six years later, I graduated.”

“I knew that I wanted to go back and help my profession. I had laser focus. All my assignments were about shift workers or sleep deprivation. Wherever I could, I related my studies to it,” Audra said.

Studying on campus was a completely different life for Audra. “I had been an employee all my working life, and I had so much to learn that it was overwhelming. But I made some lifelong friends at Endeavour. I also loved the diversity of the lecturers with their different knowledge and experience.”

While Audra thought about clinical practice, her long-term goal was to educate as many shift workers as possible. She founded a business, The Healthy Shift Worker, and now runs online programs for shift workers about sleep and nutrition. She also does some one-to-one consultations, runs a podcast and has recently launched her first book, Too Tired to Cook: The Shift Worker’s Guide to Working and Surviving in a 24/7 World.

Audra’s biggest passion is running corporate wellness workshops for companies who employ shift workers. She has now delivered her signature Healthy Shift Worker Wellness Seminars for organisations such as the Queensland Police, the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union, Melbourne Airport and multiple 24/7 veterinary clinics. “My ultimate goal is to travel around Australia and overseas with my workshops,” she said.

“I’d also love to see information about how to stay healthy as a shift worker written into curriculums and corporate induction and training programs because right now, incredibly, it’s fairly non-existent,” Audra said.

You can catch Audra at her first public event, Better Sleep & Nutrition for Shift Workers at the Toombul Shire Hall in Brisbane, on 29 November. For tickets, visit www.healthyshiftworker.com

Natural Health Heroes

Natural Health Heroes celebrates the wellness journeys of our alumni. From where they began to where they are today, we showcase our alumni’s unique stories, experiences and successes.

Interested in reading more Natural Health Heroes stories? Head here for more.


Endeavour College of Natural Health

Endeavour College of Natural Health is Australia's largest Higher Education provider of natural medicine courses.

The College is known as the centre of excellence for natural medicine and is respected for its internationally recognised academic teams and high calibre graduates. Endeavour offers Bachelor of Health Science degrees and Honours programs in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, Acupuncture and Myotherapy, a fully online Bachelor of Complementary Medicine and  HLT52015 Diploma of Remedial Massage.

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