NURSING staff at the South Gippsland Hospital in Foster are actively adding to their Urgent Care skills through the Rural Urgent Care Nursing (RUCN) Capability Development Program (CDP) under the auspices of Alfred Health.
The training program has been conducted at SGH during the past few years and, to date, more than 12 nurses have either completed or are currently undertaking a series of online modules and in-person workshops to put theory into practice.
SGH Chief Executive Officer and the Hospital’s former Director of Nursing (DoN) Paul Greenhalgh said, “we have seen a 40 per cent increase in demand on our Urgent Care Centre (UCC) over the past couple of years.
“Having our staff trained and suitably prepared for any emergency that presents is a challenge in small rural settings,” he said.
“The RUCN Program has been invaluable in the way our nurses have been able to extend and apply their knowledge and their clinical competency while in the workplace.”
During his role as DoN at SGH, Mr Greenhalgh was involved in the State-wide committee that led to the establishment of the online RUCN Program and its four core modules.
Since 2022, the Program has expanded into a Bedside Teaching model, which has a RUCN Clinical Nurse Educator working alongside learners while they are on shift in the UCC.
Clinical Nurse Educators, or CNEs, provide tailored clinical support and assist the learner to apply the theoretical content derived from the online core modules at the bedside of people who are actually being assessed in real time and circumstance.
Bedside Teaching, or BST, enables the RUCN Program CNE team members to provide learner- and site-specific, flexible, and dynamic face-to-face education in actual hospital UCCs and Emergency Departments (EDs).
SGH experienced the BST model for the first time on Monday April 17, 2023, with Alfred Heath’s Gippsland and Hume Coordinator and CNE, Eryn Mcguinness, working alongside SGH Acute Ward / UCC Registered Nurse (RN) Chloe Ollington.
Chloe is now in her second year of nursing after graduating as an RN, and previously had taken part in the SGH Graduate Nurse Program in 2022.
“Working in the UCC is always very different, because you never know just what kind of emergency is going to come through the door,” she said.
“Having Eryn as a Clinical Nurse Educator beside me during an UCC shift has refreshed and consolidated the skills I know I have, in terms of assessing a patient, knowing what to watch out for and determining the degree of emergency.
“Eryn also gave me other ways of looking at a situation, which I found prompted the areas of knowledge needed to decide what is required in the many different scenarios and permutations that are seen in an UCC,” Chloe said.
“Other topics we covered included the importance of handing a patient over to a doctor with clear, accurate documentation,” she said.
“While it was a quieter shift in the UCC on the day Eryn was with me, among the presentations we did receive were a person with chest pain, an unwell baby, and a cut finger.”
During her visit to SGH, Eryn also conducted a training session on triage in the UCC setting, which was attended by a group of SGH’s more senior RNs, all of whom regularly work UCC shifts among their other duties.
Triage is the art of assessing patients presenting to UCCs and EDs and categorising them into one of five clinical urgency categories, ranging from emergency or an immediately life-threatening condition, through to non-urgent, in line with the Australasian Triage Scale (ATS).
The ATS is a clinical tool used to establish the maximum waiting time for medical assessment and treatment of a patient and aims to ensure that patients are treated in the order of their clinical urgency and allocated to the most appropriate assessment and treatment area.
SGH’s current DoN, Claire Kent, said the Hospital has worked in partnership with Alfred Health for many years.
“Alfred Health held a Rural Urgent Care Nursing workshop here in Foster in 2021, and another in Leongatha in 2022,” she said.
“SGH is to host the next workshop later this year, and the members of our UCC nursing staff are already keen to take part to further their ability in this important field.”