The pilot participants of Queensland Health's new Nursing and Midwifery Exchange Program have returned home, with fourteen new nurses getting ready to pack their bags.
Program Coordinator Amy Byrne, from the South West Hospital and Health Service, said more than 90 nurses and midwives had formally expressed interest in participating in an exchange, with 14 already formalised. "Hundreds of nurses and midwives have also subscribed to our mailing list."
After 12 weeks at Logan Hospital, pilot participant Carly Clunes has returned to St George. She said the experience boosted her confidence. "Managing the workload, time management skills, and also caring for patients who are more acute; it's made me realise that I can look after many patients at a time who are very unwell and learning new skills that I can take back to St George [and] educate the younger workforce."
Donna Rixon, who left Logan for St George Hospital, said her experience refreshed old skills. "I haven't worked in a ward for many years; the last 10-15 years I have worked in an emergency department, so it has been most enjoyable to look after antenatal mothers in hospital to nursing them in hospital post-delivery, through to nursing elderly people."
Her husband Geoff also participated in the exchange and headed out to Dirranbandi. He said the exchange has "been immense; the development that I have achieved in my learning and my experience in this entire environment has been absolutely wonderful. Very rewarding, and would love to do it again."
Georgie Blain from Weipa will soon head to Cairns as a participant in the first official Nursing and Midwifery Exchange Program cohort. She is hoping to gain more experience in areas not available in rural and remote settings. "The largest hospital I've ever worked in before had 29 beds. At the Cairns Hospital, that's just one of the wards.
I’m a bit nervous but I'm also keen to see how things are done in a large facility and especially in a specialised ward."
"Working at the Cairns Hospital also will help me make some useful contacts as a lot of patients from Weipa and the Western Cape who need more complex treatment will be referred to Cairns, so it will be good to know people there personally."
Georgie is swapping places with fellow registered nurse Tessa Rowe, who has been working in the Respiratory and Renal Ward at the Cairns Hospital for the past 18 months. "My partner and I plan to move to the Torres Strait in the near future so I saw the exchange program as a great opportunity to start my journey to remote nursing," she said.
"Here in Weipa, I am hoping to share my experience working in a busy, high acuity ward in a large hospital, while gaining different skills that remote nurses have."
We wish all our participants an enjoyable and rewarding experience, and look forward to hearing about your adventure at the end of the exchange.
Applications for the Nursing and Midwifery Exchange Program are open to Queensland Health nurses and midwives only. Eligibility criteria apply. Staff seeking more information can search for the program on the Queensland Health intranet (QHEPS).
PICTURED ABOVE: Georgie Blane and Tessa Rowe