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Ask Zena: RUSON/RUSOM programs and dealing with aggressive patients

Ask Zena: RUSON/RUSOM programs and dealing with aggressive patients

Starting your career as a professional nurse or midwife can be challenging and daunting. If you have a general question for our Graduate and Final Year Student Support Officer, Zena Coffey, go to

Hello Zena, I have heard about a position in the hospital setting called a RUSON. Are you able to give me some more information about this role and how I go about applying for the role? Kind regards, Ben

Hello Ben,

We are very excited about the RUSON model of employment which the Branch has championed since its inception in 2010. A RUSON is a registered undergraduate student of nursing and there is also a midwifery equivalent – a registered undergraduate student of midwifery (RUSOM).

To be eligible to work as a RUSON or RUSOM you must be in the second or third year of your degree. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door in the hospital setting and start putting some of your nursing/midwifery skills into practice.

When practising as a RUSON/RUSOM you are working under the direction of a registered nurse/registered midwife to support the workforce within the bounds of the core duties list and within your scope of practice.

I would strongly suggest you research vacant positions as there are opportunities readily available at many public health services right now. You can find these job ads on and you can also directly apply to the hospital; most health services advertise their vacancies on their website.

Don’t forget to let ANMF know if you are working as a RUSON/RUSOM, which entitles you to $400 CPD credit through our CPD portal and up to $10 million professional indemnity and public liability insurance. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for further guidance at


Dear Zena, I am three months into my grad year and I’m working on a general medical ward. There is a patient who has been on our ward for around six weeks who continues to be aggressive and at times violent towards staff. I find it really scary when I’m allocated this patient. What do you suggest I do? Kind regards, Faryn

Hello Faryn,

I’m so sorry to hear that you and other staff are being subjected to violence and aggression in your workplace. This can be very confronting for a graduate because you may not have experienced this on placement. This is not part of your job and it’s not something that you should be subjected to at work.

ANMF has worked closely with WorkSafe to develop strategies and procedures that address occupational violence and aggression and try to decrease the occurrence and impacts of OVA. ANMF produced the 10 Point plan to end violence and aggression – A guide for health services [PDF]. which you can find on our website There are five main actions you can take:

  1. Complete an OHS incident report and a clinical incident report. The OHS incident report is to alert management of the risk to your health and safety and the clinical incident report is to raise concerns for the patient’s wellbeing.
  2. Speak to your nurse in charge or ANUM and ask for support.
  3. Contact the ANMF via the simple online form and an ANMF staff member will be in contact with you within 24-48 hours.
  4. Speak to your Health and Safety Representative. They can offer you invaluable support and guidance.
  5. Contact your Employee Assistance Provider or the Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria. They can provide confidential counselling at no cost to you. Your health and wellbeing are of utmost importance.