SCU graduates begin nursing career

Published 31 December 2004

Five Southern Cross University nursing graduates will take up positions at Lismore’s St Vincent’s Hospital this month (January) following completion of a successful graduate program aimed at smoothing the transition from student to registered nurse.

St Vincent’s Hospital Director of Nursing Mrs Deborah Lewis said under the program new graduates were provided with clinical experience under the direction of experienced nurses in a hospital setting.

“This means that new graduates gain confidence and further develop their skills without having to leave home to undertake a post graduate program,” Mrs Lewis said.

“These nurses live locally with their families and completed their Bachelor of Nursing at Southern Cross University. Upon completion of the Bachelor of Nursing nurses may choose to apply to St Vincent’s Hospital to undertake the post graduate program for 12 months. The clinical experience we offer is to rotate the new graduates to all clinical areas of the hospital, including medical, palliative care, surgery, theatre and rehabilitation.

“The feedback about the program from our new graduates is very positive because it helps them develop their confidence and gives them exposure to a wide range of clinical areas which helps them to choose where they may like to specialise.”

Mrs Lewis said following completion of the one-year program in 2004, five nurses had been offered permanent positions at the hospital.

She said nursing was an excellent career option and SCU’s nursing program meant people did not have to leave the region to pursue a career in nursing.

“It’s vital for us to have SCU’s School of Nursing here. We are certainly looking to build our relationship with SCU into the future.”

SCU’s acting Head of School of Nursing, Dr John Stevens, said the growing shortage of trained nurses had created plenty of opportunities for nursing graduates in Australia and overseas.

“Australian nursing degrees are recognised all over the world. Many of our graduates end up working overseas, while others use the Bachelor of Nursing as a stepping stone into other health professions such as medicine, physiotherapy and health service management,” Dr Stevens said.

“For other students, the shortage of nurses in most regional areas, including the Northern Rivers, means local jobs are quite easy to get with an average starting salary of close to $40,000 a year.”

He said SCU’s Bachelor of Nursing offered study and experience in a range of areas including medical, surgical, operating room, accident and emergency, intensive care, paediatrics, aged care, mental health, community health and indigenous health.

“We offer a broad course, with a wide range of specialty areas, as well as excellent ‘hands-on’ experience, with supervised clinical experience in a variety of hospitals and other health care settings across the North Coast.”

Dr Stevens said the increased number of Commonwealth-funded nursing places at SCU was aimed at reducing the growing shortage of nursing staff.

“This has opened up excellent opportunities for residents of the North Coast. Now is an excellent time to get into the nursing profession.”

SCU has no pre-requisites for entry into the Bachelor of Nursing and offers bridging programs if necessary. For information contact SCU’s School of Nursing on 66203642 or email

Photo and interview opportunity St Vincent’s Hospital, 10am, Tuesday, January 4, 2005.

Media contact: Brigid Veale SCU Media Unit, (02) 66593006 or 0439 680 748.