Can aged care nursing be the new black?

Sophisticated and well supported graduate nursing programs are building professionalism and prestige into aged care nurse education as they tackle workforce challenges

By Lillian Radulova

Despite the ongoing debate on nurse salaries, graduate programs for nurses in aged care are growing in popularity with two new programs launched this week.

Aged and Community Care Victoria has recently launched  ‘The aged care Graduate Nurse Program’ providing a 12 month graduate employment program for anyone who has finished a bachelor of nursing.

While there are some graduate programs already offered by individual aged care providers such as Bupa, this is the first program of its kind that is open to a large number of organisations, according to ACCV’s Diana Fitzgerald.

In partnership with Monash University and funded by the Commonwealth Government, ACCV places new graduates  with a provider for 12 months, with seven weeks spent studying an intense theoretical program delivered by Monash University, which provides credits towards a masters in aged care.

“It is what’s called a graduate year,” says Fitzgerald who is ACCV’s manager for training, events, and consultancy. “If you think about doctors, they do an internship for one year after finishing their training.  So its like that: graduates can complete one year of extra supported study in a chosen environment. That program has been available for a long time in hospitals, but hasn’t been available for aged care settings”
“So, we’re looking for graduates who want to develop a career in the aged care environment,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

By working with the government and the industry together, Ms Fitzgerald said a highly supportive environment can be created for the graduates.

“We have established an industry reference group and all of the providers hosting graduates are in that group. Part of the terms of reference is an agreement to some guidelines about how the graduates will be supported and our vision for training them to help ensure they are developed well into career aged care nurses and eventually take on leadership roles in the industry.” she said.

Fitzgerald says extra support will also be provided to the graduates by nurses already working for each participating organisation.

“Interested staff in host organisations will undertake two days of preceptor training to help them better support the graduates. That’s very important.  We’re trying to create an environment that will allow aged care graduate nurses to be the best nurses they can be, and if they have a very good experience then they’re more likely to stay in the industry.  It’s all about strengthening the workforce for the future to ensure the ageing population gets the best care that they can.”

ACCV has also employed two specialist aged care clinical placement supervisors to support graduate participants clinically and assist them with their further learning.

“These are the first aged care specialist clinical placement supervisors. One of the reasons it’s really important is because they can provide that extra support for graduates while they’re at work…they will work side by side with them.” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Meanwhile, UnitingCare Ageing has also announced this week a free four week Registered Nurse Refresher Course, to begin in January, offering registered nurses currently out of the workforce, or looking for a career change, the chance to work in aged care.

The course will update participants’ skills by providing both theoretical content study and supported clinical placements for practical experience, with employment opportunities in both residential and community care available at the completion of the course.

“We look forward to attracting as many registered nurses as possible back into the workforce, to help them update their skills and knowledge and encourage them to help support the valuable care services UnitingCare provides,” Western Region Director, Jenny Coutts said.

“This is a beneficial program for both experienced nurses and new recruits and there is no doubt those new to the industry will benefit from the mentoring of our more experienced nurses.”
For more information on ACCV’s Graduate Nursing Program, click here.

To register your interest for UnitingCare Ageing Registered Nurse Refresher Course, call (02) 4723 9460 or 0437 279 722.

Tags: aged-and-community-care-victoria, bupa, clinical-placement, graduate-nursing-program, monash-university, registered-nurse-refresher-course, the-aged-care-graduate-nurse-program, unitingcare-ageing,

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