First-year nursing graduates make their mark
A group of 89 first-year registered nurses were recognised in a special graduation ceremony at Waikato Hospital today (Tuesday May 31).
The graduates, all working in the Waikato District Health Board, successfully completed one of two in-house postgraduate programmes last year.
Seventy-six of the graduates completed the Nurse Entry to Practice (NETP) programme, involving structured professional development and learning for first-year registered nurses.
Among them were junior nurses from Waikato, Thames and Tokoroa hospitals, and primary health care nurses working for Plunket and the Corrections Department.
Thirteen first-year registered nurses also graduated from the BEST programme, which is focused on those entering mental health practice.
The nationally funded programmes, run by district health boards across New Zealand, encourage the development of new nurses’ clinical knowledge and skills.
Lesley Macdonald, Waikato District Health Board’s Nurse Entry to Practice Coordinator, said the programmes benefit new graduates, their employers and the general public.
“They enable nurses in that first year of practice to enter into supportive, structured programmes that introduces them to the professional requirements of registered nurses,” said Macdonald.
She said health care providers in the Waikato could feel confident about employing newly graduated nurses, knowing they would be supported by ongoing education from the Waikato District Health Board.
The programmes help nurses focus on “the spectrum of patient care – continuity of care which will be increasingly required for registered nurses wherever they practice”, said Macdonald.
The Nurse Entry to Practice programme is practical, on-the-job education, but an academic component is delivered by Auckland University, onsite at Waikato Hospital.
“There is a focus on chronic conditions, one of the Waikato District Health Board’s priorities,” said Macdonald.
In 2010, for the first time, first-year registered nurses in primary health care, aged care and community nursing – including those working in general practice, for Plunket and the Corrections Department, and in district nursing – were able to apply to the Nurse Entry to Practice programme, which has been running in its current form for about five years.
“This has been a successful beginning in the strategically important areas of primary health and care for older people,” said Macdonald.
At today’s ceremony graduates were presented with a certificate of achievement and a Waikato District Health Board medal.
Board chief executive officer Craig Climo congratulated the graduates on their efforts, telling them they “will always be learning” in the nursing profession.
He told them “there has never been a better time in the health sector to be a health professional”.
“The reason is that there is a lot of change afoot, and it’s positive for both the sector and the workforce.”
He said the aging population and preventable lifestyle diseases meant there would be an increasing number of patients with chronic conditions accessing health care services in the future, which will impact resources.
The solution is not to just build bigger hospitals, but manage patient care in the community, he suggested, including self-management in the home.
He said there were increased opportunities for new nurses, not only in hospitals, but also in primary care in the community.
“If I were a young recent health graduate, I’d be relishing this environment,” said Climo.
Also at the gradation ceremony was Sue Hayward, the director of Nursing & Midwifery and Michael Bland, clinical nursing director of the Professional Development Unit.
Macdonald said the graduates should feel proud of their efforts.
“It is an exciting day,” said Macdonald. “It hammers home to the graduates what they’ve achieved, all that hard work. The first year of nursing is full-on, and they are adapting to that new role and finding their feet in a challenging profession.”
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About Waikato District Health Board and Health Waikato:
Waikato DHB is responsible for planning, funding and providing quality health and disability support services for the 363,400 people living in the Waikato DHB region. It has an annual turnover of $1.1 billion and employs more than 6000 people.
Health Waikato is the DHB’s main provider of hospital and health services with an annual budget of more than $674 million and 4980 staff. It has six groups across five hospital sites, two continuing care facilities and 20 community bases offering a comprehensive range of primary, secondary and tertiary health services.
A wide range of independent providers deliver other Waikato DHB-funded health services - including primary health, pharmacies and community laboratories.