Graduate nurses choose to continue their careers at Grampians Health Stawell

From left – Stawell nurse educator Katie Lovett with graduate nurses Amanda White,
Danielle Simonsen, Kate Ryan-Wills and Stephanie Doran-Brown along with
Stawell campus director Sue Campigli.

Grampians Health’s Stawell campus has been bolstered by the news that all four of its nurses who completed their graduation in 2022 have committed to remaining on the team.   

Amanda White, Danielle Simonsen, Kate Ryan-Wills and Stephanie Doran-Brown received their diploma certificates at a graduation ceremony at the Stawell campus recently. Grampians Health clinical educator Katie Lovett said three nurses were from Horsham and one from Melbourne but all of them preferred to continue their nursing careers at Stawell.   

“They completed rotations in acute medical and surgical oncology, theatre and district nursing as well as gaining exposure to our urgent care centre,” Ms Lovett said.   

“They’ve all decided to take permanent work at Grampians Health because they’ve enjoyed their rotations here,” she said.   

“Usually, we have three graduate nurses each year but in 2022 it was four which has been amazing.”   

Increasing placement capacity, providing more exposure to regional and rural health and providing more training opportunities are key priorities in Grampians Health’s Strategic Plan 2022–24 to develop the future nursing workforce.   

Ms Lovett is one of the main nurse educators at Stawell. She is supported by two other educators based at Stawell as well as their preceptors in each department who had helped oversee the nursing students’ development.   

Ms Lovett said all training was completed at the Stawell campus and all have taken permanent employment in acute medical surgical, oncology, theatre and district nursing.   

“They’ve also completed courses such as the Rural Urgent Care Nursing course which is through the Alfred Hospital but we offer it here at Stawell,” she said.   

“They’ve learned how to cannulate, use picks, ports, interpret ECGs, recognise and respond to clinical deterioration and all are competent for Advance Life Support.   

“They are all happy to travel to Stawell for their work too. That’s how much they love it here.”   

Ms Lovett said the nurses enjoyed the exposure that their grad year at Stawell offered.   

“For starters, it gets you so much exposure to everything, not just one or two departments. And you don’t have to deal with a different educator for every different department you work in, like you would in Melbourne.”    

Graduate nurse Kate Ryan-Wills travels from Horsham every day and thoroughly enjoys working at Stawell.   

Ms Ryan-Wills was offered a Grad Year program at Portland but was unable to take that up due to family circumstances. Following that, she said she had approached all the health facilities in the western part of the state where work could be within one hour of travel from Horsham.  

“I accepted the role at Stawell because the rotations were just what I was wanting and the location was beneficial to me and my family,” Ms Ryan-Wills said.   

“It was the right move for me because Grampians Health and Katie have given me so many opportunities in the last 12 months to advance my career with the right training,” she said.   

“I’ve done an Advanced Life Saving course and an Urgent Care course but I’ve also externally studied a graduate certificate in advanced nursing which has also been supported by Grampians Health.   

“I’ve also done in-services every month so there’s been a lot of things that I’ve added on in those 12 months. Compared to when I was working as an EN, I never had those opportunities. I feel Stawell really supports all nurses by providing extra education and training to help us in our careers.”  

Ms Ryan-Wills said she had worked at other health facilities in Western Victoria but felt she was at home at Stawell.    

“I feel like I’ve been nurtured and supported a lot more than I have at any other health facility.   

“A lot of people think that with a smaller organisation you don’t get as many opportunities, but I feel a small organisation in a rural town gives you a lot more opportunity than you would get in a bigger hospital.   

“I was lucky enough to train in district nursing while I was here so I’ve got to know the town and the hospital, and I have learned from the community as well.”   

Ms Ryan-Wills, who is currently working in the acute ward, said theatre was her favourite rotation and she would like to take up a role in surgical services once there is an opening.    

“The fact we’ve all decided to stay on is testament to the organisation that we all love it so much and we’re all willing to travel to work here.   

“We are back doing overnight surgery and not only looking after the local community, but we are even taking on patients from Melbourne.”   

In 2023, Grampians Health Stawell is also set to welcome 118 nursing students who will be completing their clinical placements as part of their Diploma or Bachelor of Nursing studies.