SOUTH Gippsland Hospital (SGH) in Foster has welcomed four nurses fresh from receiving their university degrees in nursing into the Hospital’s 2023 Graduate Nurse Program (GNP).
The four nurses; Sarah Wake of Welshpool, Kelly Geary of Port Franklin, Tracey Anderson of Leongatha, and Shannon McHarrie of Port Franklin, started at SGH in late January and will continue there at least until the end of January in 2024.
SGH Director of Nursing Claire Kent, and Acting Nurse and Midwifery Educator, Marion Bowron, said the GNP is a 12-month supported program offered to newly graduated registered nurses.
“It is akin to the internship that medical graduates undertake during their first year of professional clinical practice,” Ms Kent said.
“SGH has conducted a GNP for more than 20 years, usually for one or two graduates, however in 2023 the program has expanded to four positions, and we’re very happy to have four local residents as our graduate nurses this year,” she said.
“Graduate nurses are vital members of our team and we regard them as our workforce for the future.”
Ms Bowron said three of the graduate nurses had studied at Federation University at Churchill, and the fourth at Monash University in Clayton.
“Along with many others, some had undertaken clinical placement at SGH during their three-year university course, and they all may go on to do post-graduate studies in specialist fields such as midwifery,” she said.
“Two of our current cohort had been employed part time in our acute ward in 2022 as Registered Undergraduate Students of Nursing (RUSONs),” Ms Kent said.
“These RUSON positions were part of a new role and opportunity for nursing undergraduates funded by the Victorian Department of Health.
“The RUSON program was established across the state during the pandemic to utilise nursing students to boost the nursing workforce teams,” she said.
“The RUSONs are additional to our normal staffing numbers and are an integral part of our team.”
Ms Kent said one of the graduates had been working in the community care area as an Enrolled Nurse, and so is also already well known to the organisation.
“The four graduate nurses have been working as Registered Nurses since the end of January and have adapted well into their new role and increased level of clinical practice and responsibility,” she said.
“The SGH graduate program provides the newly registered nurse with a supported environment with close supervision, and relevant study days to meet the learning needs of each individual graduate.
“This year, each nurse will undertake rotations through acute ward, district nursing service, and peri-operative / theatre suite,” Ms Kent said.
“The GNP provides valuable knowledge and skills on the patient’s journey from admission to the hospital for an acute episode, through to care provided in the community following discharge home.”
The GNP is partially funded by the Victorian Department of Health, and the funding is used to provide a Clinical Support Nurse to work closely with both the graduate nurses and the undergraduate students who come into SGH.
“The two graduates from the 2022 program have since taken on permanent positions in the acute ward and, together with our other staff, provide a high level of mentoring and support to the 2023 group.”
Ms Bowron said among the many skills new graduates acquire during the GNP is preceptorship, which is learning how to teach and to pass information on to others.
“This allows our graduate nurses to help and guide our student undergraduate nurses while consolidating their own knowledge, and also they remember when they were students themselves better than we rather more senior nursing staff” she said.
“The four graduate nurses will experience the whole of life continuum working and learning at SGH and are now on the staff roster as valuable and valued members of our team.”
The four nurses themselves said they specifically chose to apply for a place in SGH’s Graduate Nurse Program.
Their comments included, “I love living and working in this community”, “the reputation of the Hospital and the local doctors is first class”, and “all of the doctors and the senior nurses are very approachable and happy to share their knowledge.”
Ms Kent said, “SGH filled its 2023 quota of graduate nurses very easily even though it had effectively doubled, and we think we got the cream of the crop!”