Opening the door to a career in aged care

Bupa Care Services has 25 new participants in its Graduate Nurse Program, the only graduate program specifically for aged care nursing.

Above: The 25 nursing graduates selected for the Bupa Graduate Nurse Program, which is in its second year (image: Bupa Care Services).

By Stephen Easton

This week sees 25 newly registered nurses start work at various Bupa Care Services facilities around Australia through its graduate program, created last year to attract more newly-trained nurses to aged care by offering them practical experience and professional development.

The Bupa Graduate Nurse Program is the first such arrangement to offer placements in the field of aged care, and consists of four three-month clinical placements over the first year, leading to the completion of the first four modules of a Graduate Certificate in Nursing. 

Participants then have the option to continue their employment while completing the graduate certificate over the following two years through customised modules and self-paced learning, funded by the company.

Ruby Anne Cantos is a registered nurse who completed her nursing degree in the Philippines, where she said aged care nursing was not an option, and dementia care virtually non-existent. An 11-month course at the College of Nursing allowed her to become registered locally, but the graduate program gave her the chance to learn about caring for the elderly.

“I’m very happy that I got in,” Ms Cantos said from her new workplace at Bupa Morphettville in Adelaide. “It’s really good because it offers a lot of opportunities to get support from the managers, other RNs and the head office in Sydney.”

“I will definitely choose to stay on after the three years because I find aged care very rewarding, though it’s also challenging. [The program] will give me a lot of experience, which I need because at uni, we didn’t really learn a lot about aged care.

“In an acute care setting people come to the hospital, we treat the disease and if we find that they’re OK, we’ll just send them back home. But in a nursing home, they could spend years so it’s a very holistic approach – you get to know the people, their families and the diseases as well.”

Fellow Bupa Graduate Nurse, Bren Brillante, was already working in a nursing home as an Assistant in Nursing while he completed his degree, which he said covered aged care nursing but did not focus on it. 

Unlike many of his classmates, who were attracted to a career in hospitals by the large number and variety of illnesses to deal with, Mr Brillante enjoys building relationships and looking at the whole person, rather than just their immediate physical needs in his new aged care job, which is split between Bupa Queens Park and Bupa Maroubra, both in Sydney.

“In aged care you get to be close to the residents and their families, so you can actually understand what they need better,” he said. “As a registered nurse we’re not just dealing with the physical needs of the person, we’re also dealing with their emotional and spiritual needs. I chose aged care because I’m comfortable with older people and I enjoy giving them the best nursing care I can.

“It’s a tough job. You’re dealing with people’s lives – not only the residents but also their families.”

More information about the Bupa Graduate Nurse Program is available from the Bupa Care Services website.  

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