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University seeking GP clinics for nursing work placements


Sharlene King
17 April 2013
A work placement at a GP clinic has helped secure Southern Cross University nursing student Bridget Barnes a graduate position at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

Now the 21-year-old is hoping similar professional primary care placement opportunities will be a springboard for other undergraduate nurses.

“I learnt so much. I worked one-on-one with a RN (registered nurse) and very closely with the doctors,” Bridget said of her placement last year at Bangalow Medical Centre.

The University is encouraging GP clinics across the NSW North Coast (from Tweed Heads to Taree) and the Gold Coast to consider taking on a nursing student to help broaden the variety of clinical work placements on offer.

“The doctors and RNs get to mentor a trainee nurse and orientate them in providing primary care, while trainees get to consolidate theory with valuable practical experience,” said Lissa Ingram, clinical teacher leader in the School of Health and Human Sciences.

The students choose to complete Primary Care in a hospital, community health or general practice (GP) setting.

“The GP clinic is a valuable training ground,” said Ms Ingram. “Our student nurses get lots of one-on-one attention from the supervising nurse. As well, they get to practise a range of skills, in particular communication skills because the students need to establish a relationship with the patient within 10 minutes.”

Bridget said her work placement was practical and hands-on.

“I liked being the primary care giver to the patients. I became confident with subcutaneous and intramuscular injections, performing and interpreting electrocardiograms, wound dressings and venepunctures. I was applying and removing plaster casts to and from fractured bones, triaging, developing care plans, referring patients to allied health practitioners, performing sterile procedures, and performing chronic health care assessments.”

Bangalow Medical Centre’s registered nurse Rhonda West said the mentoring experience was worthwhile.

“Healthcare has much more of a primary care focus nowadays and practice nurses are a big part of that, so the more nurses are exposed to general practice the better the supply of future practice nurses will be.

“I like being able to share with the students my knowledge and enthusiasm for general practice. They are keen to learn and in the GP setting the student is able to practice their newly acquired skills within a supportive environment.”

Ms West said Bridget was an exceptional nurse.

“She had great interpersonal skills and was able to apply those. She was very well accepted by the patients and staff and worked well as one of our team.”

Work placements continue throughout the year for Southern Cross University students.

If you are a GP clinic interested in engaging a nursing student, contact Lissa Ingram on 0447 624 472 or Anna Foster on 0458 761 427 for more information.

Photo: Bridget Barnes with medical student Lernik Sarkissian at Bangalow Medical Centre.