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Caring profession welcomes new highly skilled graduates

Age is no barrier when entering into the caring professions – a fact well illustrated at the graduation ceremony of North Regional TAFE Diploma of Nursing on 9 September.

The 22 graduates from two intakes, ranged in age from 22 years to 56 years, from various ethnic backgrounds and represented a good cross-section of the Pilbara – Port Hedland, Karratha and Newman – as well as Gascoyne – Carnarvon and Mullewa.

Two students, however, stood out from the rest and were presented with special awards at the ceremony, held at the Esplanade Hotel, Port Hedland. The Academic Excellence award went to Ashleigh Lions, a young mum who juggled motherhood while studying full-time, completing the course in the prescribed 18 months. Ashleigh was described by her lecturers as highly committed to her studies, “always a pleasure to read her work, well written and referenced” were frequent comments.

Gina Whitby, presented with the Clinical Excellence Award, is also a mum who originally commenced her Diploma of Nursing with NRT in July 2013, but had to move to Perth so was unable to continue.

“Once relocated back in the Pilbara in 2016, Gina had to take on a hefty study load to complete pre-requisite units so she could continue with her cohort,” said Ngaire Whyte, Nursing Program Coordinator and Lecturer Health Science. “At no time did she complain. Everything she did was with a smile and a can do attitude. In a clinical setting she was kind, gentle and extremely compassionate, displaying clinical competencies at a very high level.”

It is important that nurses in Australia display these attributes, as well as being able to work with the culturally diverse clients that make up our population today, according to guest speaker, Donna Hindmarsh, Acting Regional Nurse and Midwifery Director for the Pilbara. “Being a nurse includes an understanding of the contemporary health environment, the Health Care system, research and the legal and ethical parameters to nursing practice, as well as clinical skills in a wide range of areas such as mental health, domiciliary health care, diabetes nursing, geriatrics, paediatrics, wound management and much more,” Ms Hindmarsh said.

The 18 month course for the HLT51612 Diploma of Nursing  HLT51612 enables the graduates to work in a clinical environment, but seven have chosen to advance their studies by enrolling for a Bachelor of Nursing and Cassandra Woodruff has been accepted into Paramedicine at Curtin University.

Several of the graduating students have been successful in gaining employment in the highly competitive Graduate EN Programs on offer through WA Health. Ashleigh Lions has been accepted into the Graduate EN program at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, starting in the New Year; while Nadira Arkell was successful at gaining the Graduate EN position at Hedland Health Campus, and others gained similar positions in Perth, locally in Port Hedland and other rural locations across WA.

Further placements include graduates being employed in general practice nursing, in aged care, and one student is currently in the final rounds of interviews to work with the team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, stating it was her EN training that helped her greatly in getting this far in the interview process.

“This Diploma is only the start of their career,” says Jan Edwards, Director of Training Services for the Pilbara. “It is not an end to their professional learning. These young women have entered into a very important profession and achieved a qualification that is accepted in all States and Territories of Australia.”

“A good nurse has solid communication skills, interpersonal and emotional stability, intelligence, empathy, compassion, flexibility, attention to detail and sound problem solving skills,” according to both Ms Edwards and Mrs Whyte. “We ask a lot of our nurses and it is so rewarding to see our students graduate and then see them working in the community or advancing their studies to be the best they can be.”

The Diploma means that graduates gain direct entry into the Bachelor of Nursing no matter the mode of study they have chosen. Students have the choice of online or face-to-face study, but all must attend the new, state-of-the-art Health Community Services Training Centre on the NRT Pundulmurra Campus, for compulsory Simulation Training prior to clinical placement. These were at numerous locations including Hedland Health Campus (medical and surgical, paediatrics, renal dialysis, wound clinic and community nursing) and Karlarra House Aged Care Facility, locally; and Royal Perth Hospital Fiona Stanley Hospital, Fremantle Hospital and Health Service and Armadale Health Service in Perth.

All students are required to complete a minimum of 440 unpaid hours of clinical placement work in various settings prior to being able to complete their course, this being the highlight of their studies for most of them.

NRT (and previously Pilbara Institute) has been offering the Diploma of Nursing for over 10 years and the five full-time lecturers are experts in their fields. Nursing is a popular course in the community according to Kevin Evans, Training Manager, Pundulmurra Campus and MC for the graduation ceremony. “It has been running in Hedland since 2006, with 107 graduates including 22 so far this year,” he said. “North Regional TAFE is the largest provider of training in the North of WA, servicing industries and communities across an area exceeding one million square kilometres. We are your local TAFE, providing vocational education and training at 11 campuses across the Pilbara and Kimberley regions,” he said, “delivering more than 170 nationally recognised qualifications each year to over 8,000 students.”

While both men and women enter the profession, it is a female dominated career, but for those wishing to become nurses, Mrs Whyte advises that they ensure they include English, Maths and Science-based subjects such as Biology or Human Biology in their studies at school.

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Page last updated September 15, 2017