Seven graduate nurses at Kilmore District Health will work over the course of 2023 to develop their skills as registered practicing nurses. ​

By Max Davies

Kilmore District Health, KDH, has welcomed a team of seven new employees as part of its graduate nurse program for 2023.

The program is a chance for newly-registered nurses to learn about a preferred practice in a supportive hospital environment that allows them to comfortably transition from a student to a practicing nurse.

Nurses will have the opportunity to rotate between a range of several clinical areas as part of the program, including acute care, aged care, and specialty care such as urgent care or theatre.

KDH clinical education coordinator Amanda Byrne said a priority for the hospital was to provide nurses with appropriate support and guidance to allow them to feel confident about finding the right job in the healthcare industry.

“The goal is to provide a supported environment for a newly registered nurse to commence their career in healthcare,” she said.

“We aim to support and mentor them, and letting them experience the different areas of the hospital is really important to us.”

Ms Byrne said the program filled an important gap in placements for nurses that had graduated from university and allowed them to connect and build relationships with their peers.

“For us it’s really about that support. Especially over COVID times we found students were taking part in placements with often very long periods between jobs,” she said.

“Having the rotation is good too because the graduate nurses may not have experienced those in their placements, so they may well be opened up to new areas to go into for nursing.”

A majority of program participants received their bachelor’s degree in nursing in the past few months, allowing them to treat their time at KDH in 2023 as a consolidation year where they can hone their skills and develop into a registered practicing nurse.

KDH nurse educator Regula McKinlay said taking part in the graduate program allowed nurses to feel more confident in applying for other jobs.

“After a year [with the program] nurses tend to become really solid professionals who are comfortable and confident in applying for other jobs,” she said.

“We work closely with hospitals around us so [in previous years] they’ve gone to Northern Health’s emergency department or intensive care, but lots of them have stayed and taken on clinical roles here where they have branched out into different areas.”

Graduate nurse Simone Carrafa said it was a good opportunity to be able to receive support from KDH at the beginning of her healthcare career.

“I’m very excited, it can be overwhelming at the beginning, especially because you’re studying for three years and then coming out and working pretty much on your own as a registered nurse,” she said.

“For me, it’s really nice to have the support, education, extra study days, and we know that we can always go and ask [Ms McKinlay] if we have any questions or to debrief.

“Working within the community is also something that I really wanted to do, I can care for patients close to home.”