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Primary care grad. nursing internships successful

Media Release
October 09, 2008

Primary care graduate nursing internships proving successful

Earlier this year, in a national first, six Waikato nursing graduates entered paid primary health care internships. The nurses are now in their second placements within various urban and rural health care providers and are thriving.

The internship programme supports placements of new graduate nurses in primary health care settings, ensuring exposure to urban and rural placements such as practice nursing, Plunket or district nursing.

Funded by Waikato Primary Health and implemented by Pinnacle, the internship is accessed through Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) Bachelor of Nursing.

Graduate nurse intern Sugandha Desai was initially placed at Frankton Lake Road Medical Centre, Hamilton.

"The experience was wonderful - I immediately felt trusted by staff and part of the team. I underwent a 12 week orientation programme which exposed me to the centre's capabilities. Within eight weeks I was working independently, responsible for the acute and chronic clinics," says Mrs Desai.

Mrs Desai also obtained her immunisation certificate and attended educational seminars and workshops while at the centre.

Later in July, she was given the opportunity to work with parents, babies and children through Richmond Street Plunket centre.

"This time I went through a one month orientation programme. Almost immediately I was living the life of a Plunket nurse visiting family homes, various health clinics, Work and Income offices, the migrant centre, community groups like Mothercraft, and community centres," says Mrs Desai.

Mrs Desai says the biggest difference she noticed between her experience at the medical centre and Plunket is the various ways in which primary health care is delivered.

"At the medical centre, people would visit a nurse or a GP, and I would be in the place every day. But at Plunket, nurses often go out into the community and visit people. That's what I enjoy the most. While I loved my time at the centre, I want to reach out to people who aren't being reached through traditional nursing."

Since starting at Plunket Mrs Desai wishes to continue as a mobile nurse. Her ability to speak fluently in English, Nepalese and five dialects of the Indian language, has meant she is reaching people enrolled in the health system but not availing the services because of language and cultural barriers.

Denise Blyde's first nursing internship placement was at South City Health, Hamilton, which is a busy practice with eight GPs and four nurses.

Mrs Blyde says a senior nurse took her under her wing and one of her first challenges was taking blood from a patient - something she had not done before. By the end of the day she had taken blood from almost 30 people.

"It was a little scary at first but even though it's a large practice, the nurses know their patients well, and so the patients trusted me once the introductions were made," says Mrs Blyde.

Mrs Blyde says she had to get to grips with wound care dressings, and assisted in minor surgeries like mole removals. While at the practice she became an authorised vaccinator and has since completed a cervical smear and diabetes course, and is completing a post-graduate paper offered through the new graduate programme to interns.

The second placement for Mrs Blyde is in West Coast Health, Raglan where she is working with two GPs and two nurses.

"I'm continuing with immunisations, smears, and wound care. When comparing the two experiences I've noticed each practice is shaped by the community. For example, in the city practice people made appointments and if there was an emergency they had the option of going to the hospital or the 24 hour A & E clinic. But, in a rural place like Raglan people arrive at the medical centre with an emergency like chest pains because there's nowhere else to go.

"I've also observed the health professional staff at Raglan train, manage, and provide care under 'Prime' which is an emergency first response service offered in rural areas. We're a 'one stop shop' for everyone," says Mrs Blyde.

Erica Amon, Operations Manager for Waikato Primary Health says a report produced in 2007 by Pinnacle Group Limited, identified the potential for a significant general practice nursing workforce deficit in the future. This signalled an urgent need for a structured approach to recruiting and retaining nurses in the sector, which this internship programme is designed to address," says Ms Amon.

Ms Amon says the programme aligns with one of Waikato Primary Health's strategic objectives - to support strategies that have a positive impact on the capacity and sustainability of the primary health care workforce. It also assists in improving the capability of primary health care providers in working together by ensuring they have a greater understanding and respect for each other's roles.

"We are very pleased with the results to date," says Ms Amon.

Hilary Graham-Smith, Director of Nursing for Pinnacle and nursing advisor to Waikato Primary Health, says the internships have run smoothly.

"The graduate nurses have transitioned easily into their placements. It's proving to be a highly effective internship with positive outcomes for both health providers and nurse interns," says Mrs Graham-Smith.


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