November 13, 2020

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery career pathways

As we conclude NAIDOC Week, today we highlight how we are empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives at Northern Health.

At the undergraduate level (pre-registration), Northern Health has implemented a cadetship (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Registered Undergraduate Student of Nursing-RUSON model). The Registered Undergraduate Student of Nursing (RUSON) model offers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students the opportunity to join Northern Health as an employee, work closely with a Registered Nurse or Midwife, and increase their knowledge and skills as they build their confidence.

They get to apply their learnings directly, learning first hand and strengthening their work readiness – giving them much needed exposure to the work environment they will be joining.

The first two RUSON’s have thrived in the culturally safe space that Northern Health provides. One has been recognised as Employee of the Month on their ward and the other has been recruited into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Graduate Program.

At the graduate level (post-registration), Northern Health has introduced an Aboriginal and Torres Islander Graduate Program to support newly registered nurses and midwives as they transition to the profession. The first Aboriginal graduate nurse has successfully completed her graduate program and has gained employment at Northern Health.

Penny Ramsden, Clinical School Coordinator, said the programs were designed to build both the skills and the confidence of the participants as future nurses and midwives, knowing the vital role they play in providing outstanding health care to the community – especially in this Year of Nursing and Midwifery, 2020.

At the postgraduate level, Northern Health has continued to support employees in further studies. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarships have added to their success and career progression, enriching Northern Health’s specialist nursing and midwifery workforce.

All programs are sustained by a comprehensive supportive network of preceptors, mentors, nurse unit managers, educators, cultural peer supervision, sessions and study days, Nursing Workforce Unit, Aboriginal Support Unit and Department of Health and Human Services.

Karen Bryant, Aboriginal Health Liaison Officer, said the two programs, along with the postgraduate program, were an investment in the future, empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives and increasing their confidence and competence in their chosen career pathway.

The featured image above shows Natalie Bloomfield, a proud Gunai Kurnai descendant and a recipient of the Aboriginal Postgraduate Nursing and Midwifery Scholarships Program (Masters of Education).

Says Penny, “In addition to performing her role as a Clinical Support Nurse in the Clinical School, Natalie demonstrates an extraordinary commitment and passion for supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, and is a critical resource not only for the cadets (RUSONs) and graduates, but also for colleagues and preceptors/mentors alike.”