Calvary program helps nurses making the switch to acute hospital care

An innovative Calvary program is supporting aged care and other nurses making the switch to acute hospital care, helping them rapidly upskill and transition to their new roles.

Around 30 nurses have completed or are undertaking the Entry to Acute Care Program, and several more are likely to begin soon.

About the Program.

In their first six weeks, transitioning nurses receive intensive skills training and education in the hospital, as well as support and supervision from a dedicated senior nurse, who is both a clinical educator and mentor. Support for the new starters is ongoing and regular reviews help identify any further clinical training and education needs.

Clinical Services Manager for Calvary Hobart, Annie Ramsay, believes it is the only program of its type in Tasmania.

“Calvary’s program helps nurses coming from other healthcare backgrounds to more easily adapt and quickly upskill.”

“We noticed many applications for hospital nurses were coming from nurses working in aged care and sub-acute care, such as rehabilitation, as well as returning to the workforce after time away.”

“They obviously wanted to move into hospital nursing but we knew it wouldn’t necessarily be easy for them to make the change without clinical supports in place to help with the transition. It can be a great unknown if you haven’t worked in hospitals before.”

Bella Un was the first nurse to complete the program when it started in 2021, following a move from Sydney.

“I was very, very nervous to work in a hospital, everything is a different world from working in age care,” said Bella who was a care worker in an aged care home before completing her nursing degree and moving to Hobart.

“Nursing was always something I wanted to do but I wanted to extend my clinical skills and explore more in nursing. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone.”

Bella stepped into a role on the surgical ward and by the end of her first 12 months had been named the ward’s staff member of the year.

“My facilitator and the nurse managers were very good,” said Bella.

“I was so nervous but they supported me really well both clinically and in the new environment. It all build my confidence to work on the ward.”

Benefits of the Program.

Nicole Close is the Clinical Nurse Facilitator in the specialist neurosurgical and cardiothoracic surgical unit at Calvary Lenah Valley Hospital and she says the skills and support components of the program have been important for those transitioning into these nursing roles.

“We can teach the technical and practical skills needed and I am there also to support them on the floor, which helps to further reinforce those skills. Hopefully they feel comfortable to ask questions and lean on me.”

The program operates at both Calvary’s Lenah Valley and Calvary St John’s and recruitment from each intake is targeted to meet each hospital’s needs. Current and past participants are working on orthopaedic, neuro-cardiothoracic surgery, general surgical and medical wards.

It is just one way Calvary in Hobart has creatively addressed nurse recruitment.