Twenty nine nurses and midwives have graduated and are now working in the Far West Local Health District (FWLHD), with two local nurses being placed in Broken Hill.
Courtney Hurley and Michelle Pearce are local residents who have achieved their dreams of becoming Registered Nurses.
“Through a personal experience, I learned a lot about the human body and caring for ourselves as a whole,” said Ms Hurley.
“I stumbled across the career of being a Registered Nurse, and I thought that was the absolute career dream, and I then signed up to a Bachelor of Nursing, and here I am.”
Ms Pearce is the first person in her family to complete university.
“I decided that since I had done my Enrolled Nursing qualifications and I loved the learning side of it, that I really wanted to push myself further to do more and learn more,” she said.
“I just decided to do Registered Nursing and loved it.”
The FWLHD’s cohort includes these two local nurses and nurses and midwives from NSW and interstate.
The other FWLHD graduates have been placed in Wentworth, Dareton, Ivanhoe, Wilcannia, Tibooburra and Balranald.
This year, the graduates form part of the 2,800 graduates who will begin work across 130 NSW public hospitals and health facilities.
This major boost for the NSW Health system includes more than 40 per cent of NSW’s graduates being allocated to rural and regional areas.
“These graduates have worked hard to complete their university education and clinical placements during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they will be a welcome addition to the dedicated nursing and midwifery workforce in our district,” said the Acting Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Ms Wendy Gleeson.
COVID was a huge challenge, according to Ms Pearce.
“Because it played havoc with our placements, in our online learning,” she said.
“Testing was harder because we had to change from a lot of face-to-face to online learning, and that didn’t work very well sometimes.”
The GradStart programme benefits graduates by exposing them to different clinical and professional settings, enhancing their nursing and midwifery knowledge and clinical skill development, according to Ms Gleeson.
The new graduates will be supported to gain experience in a wide range of services, including Emergency, Intensive Care, Community and Primary Health Care.
“These graduates will also gain first-hand experience of working in our remote facilities and engaging with and living within communities, which is an invaluable experience and helps encourage nurses and midwives to consider a career in our region,” said Ms Gleeson.
Orientation began last week, featuring practical and classroom activities. The new graduates will meet staff and their mentors and supervisors, who will support the transition from undergraduate university student to Registered Nurse or Midwife.
Between 2012 and 2021, the nursing and midwifery workforce in NSW increased 23 per cent, which was 9,599 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, to a total of 51,794 FTE staff.
A record $2.8 billion is also being invested by the NSW Government from 2019 to 2022 for a further 5,000 nurses and midwives to boost frontline staff.
The new graduates encourage those considering studying.
“Just go to the university website and sign up straight away. Don’t think about it!” said Ms Hurley.
“I think it’s one of those things in life that you never think you can until you do,” added Ms Pearce.