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Dedicated Support For New Primary Care Nurses

2024 new graduates nurses
New graduate primary Care nurses at WellSouth Primary Health Network earlier this year. Top row L to R: Annalise Wilson, WellSouth’s Kate Norris, Hannah Sim, Amber Mowatt, Natasha AbbottBottom Row L to R: WellSouth’s Andie Lowry, Kat Young, Lochani Kummara. (photo supplied)

WellSouth Primary Health Network is fostering a supported pathway for new nurse graduates into primary care.

As the primary health organisation (PHO) for Southland and Otago, WellSouth has partnered with the Nurse Entry to Practice (NETP) teams at Health New Zealand I Te Whatu Ora Southern to support those graduates who have been employed in general practices in Southland and Otago.

WellSouth now also has a dedicated nurse educator, WellSouth Primary Care Nurse Educator Andie Lowry, who supports the new nurses for their first year of employment.

One hundred new registered nurses commenced the NETP programmes in Southland and Otago in January this year, with eight of these nurses now employed by general practices in urban and rural locations across Southland and Otago.

On the second day of the NETP launch, these primary care nurses were welcomed to the WellSouth Dunedin office where they spent the day with Andie to learn clinical skills specific to working in primary care.

Dr Kate Norris, Professional Nurse Lead, WellSouth says the first year of practice can be challenging as new nurses make the transition from student to Registered Nurse and navigate the expectations of professional practice.

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“Support and mentorship are vital to ensure they feel confident and well supported during their first year of practice,” she says.

“It’s important to us and the wider community that these nurses thrive in primary care and choose to stay.”

Dr Norris says, “In addition to the support offered by their Registered Nurse preceptors and NETP coordinators, Andie maintains close contact with the group, meeting with the nurses monthly for online offering tutorials, Q and A sessions and an opportunity for them to share experiences and learn from each other.”

One of these is Lochani Kummara, who graduated with a dual degree, a Masters in Health Science with the University of Canterbury and a Bachelor of Nursing from Ara, she now works at Queenstown Medical Centre.

“The skills day was great. WellSouth brought all of us who are working in primary care together, and we got to meet and get all our nervousness out,” she says.

“We are all in the same boat, so it was great to meet people and feel supported.”

Miss Kummara likes the variety in primary care.

“We see everyone from babies to elderly people. We see patients in person, educate patients over the phone, and work closely with other professionals in the practice. Being in Queenstown, I get to meet a lot of people from overseas and work with lots of different cultures and communities."

“I enjoy my role in primary care, and deeply appreciate the support from WellSouth and nurses and staff at QMC.”

May 12 is International Nurses Day, a great time to recognise the role of nurses in our community.

This year’s theme is about the economic power of care. International Council of Nurses (ICN) President, Dr Pamela Cipriano says that despite being the backbone of health care, nursing often faces financial constraints and societal undervaluation.

“We believe now is the time for a shift in perspective. We have seen time and again how financial crises often lead to budgetary restrictions in health care, typically at the expense of nursing services. This reductionist approach overlooks the substantial and often underemphasized economic value that nursing contributes to health care and society as a whole.”

Dr Norris supports this.

“At WellSouth, we strive to support and enable nurses who work in primary care, through training, resourcing, support and advocacy, changing the way we think of nurses and nursing and supporting their position and impact in primary care.”

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