Undertaking a graduate program in a rural or regional hospital can provide you with experience in many more clinical areas than you might receive in a larger metropolitan hospital.
The more experience you have in different settings, the more it can enhance your skills before specialising. For instance, emergency nurse Mike Stone says that the best advice he received was to gain general nursing experience first so he’d have skills he could apply in emergency where patients present with a variety of conditions.
Melissa Pinch, clinical educator from West Gippsland Health (WGH) says that their service offers three rotations with different streams allowing graduates to gain experience with complex and multi-faceted patients.
‘You’re going to upskill and develop the ability to look after patients of all different acuities with all different problems.’
‘We look at [graduates] individually, we focus on where they’re specialising, what they’re enjoying, and we help them develop in areas that they’re really keen [on].’
Originally from Melbourne, she completed her graduate year at a metropolitan hospital. Melissa loves the short commute; free parking and the community feel working in Warragul. ‘I love working rural, I don’t think I can go back to working in the city’, she says. ‘I think in the city you’re a number.’
These experiences are echoed by nurses who moved to regional Victorian locations.
Teila Loci, who began her nursing career six years ago, says that she found she had more one-on-one time with her clinical educators and preceptors, and more variety.
Nurse Wil Wallace, loves being part of the community, citing lifestyle as a benefit. ‘I plan to stay rural and remote for my career unless something really spectacular in a metro area turns up, or it’s for a short term educational/upskilling opportunity and given the affordability difference I don’t see that happening any time soon’.
Another benefit with some services is also a smaller cohort, allowing for more one-on-one time with preceptors and educators.
‘I felt like a part of a big family and not just a number’, says Varsha Patel, a nurse, who moved to East Gippsland.
How to choose a regional program
- Research the areas you think you’d like to live in based on your personal preferences and interests, and then look for the health services cover that region.
- Look at hospital websites and annual report to give you an idea if it’s a good fit for you.
- Attend any information sessions so you can talk to graduate coordinators. You might want to ask them about the rotations offered, career progression, extra training and other benefits they offer staff.
- Online groups for students and graduates can also connect you with recent graduates who’ll talk to you about their experiences.
- Research cost of living, housing and other amenities offered in the region.