March 30, 2023

From students to employees: Northern Health welcomes six social workers

The social work team recently welcomed six La Trobe University social work students as new employees of Northern Health.

Jessica Grgat, Megan Feain, Gloria Hernandez, Alia Sayegh, Sophie Eccles and Natalie El-Bazouni have completed their student placement and became Northern Health employees in the last 12 months.

Northern Health is a proud teaching hospital, contributing to the future of health care and shaping the next generation of health professionals.

Social work students have two placements during their studies both consisting of 70 days each (14 full-time weeks). Placements are lengthy to enable consolidation of core skills across learning areas such as values and ethics, organisational and community context, interpersonal skills, research and culturally sensitive practice.

Tim Gauci is a Social Work Clinical Educator Lead who has one day per week dedicated to clinical education. His role includes interviewing prospective students, allocating supervisors, developing group learning student timetables and supporting students and staff during placement. Tim also acts as a conduit between the universities and the health service.

“Northern Health takes social work students from La Trobe University and University of Melbourne. These placements are supervised by social workers across all campuses,” said Tim.

“Social work supervisors go above and beyond to ensure our clinical placements are of high quality and that our students have a really positive learning experience here at Northern Health.”

Students have access to self-directed learning opportunities across core areas of clinical social work practice including family violence, children at risk, elder abuse and family meetings.

Northern Health social work students are mentored to develop their own identity as new clinicians and recognise the importance of social justice in their practice.

“We see the link between this positive experience and students choosing Northern Health as their future employee. This example with our social work students really highlights the importance of student clinical placement experience and workforce attraction. Our current Grade 1 workforce includes multiple social work students who have completed a placement at Northern Health,” said Allied Health Clinical School Coordinator and Education Lead, Tameeka Robertson.

In their final week of placement, students complete a case study presentation to the social work team. These presentations are a celebration of the completion of placement, and a positive way of highlighting the students’ growth and skill development.

Gloria Hernandez is one of the six students, now employees of Northern Health, and says she decided to apply for a graduate social work position because she felt included and supported by like-minded mentors.

“I completed my placement at Northern Health because it is one of the major hospitals in the metro area. I was placed as an outpatient social work student, and I loved it! I love working with women and especially patients from CALD backgrounds,” she said.

Sophie Eccles, another student turned employee, speaks very fondly of her experience at the Broadmeadows Hospital.

“Throughout my placement, I was able to gain significant knowledge and develop my skills. The team environment was very special, everyone was always so friendly and welcoming,” she said.

Emeil Boddenberg, a former student and now a Grade 1 social worker said, “The team of social workers I had met through my placement, along with all the hospital staff, were a large contribution to my decision to stay. In addition, I enjoyed the stimulation and challenge of the role and loved the patients that I worked with here. Getting to work with such a diverse community from various backgrounds is something I consider to be a privilege.”

Pictured standing (left to right): Tim Gauci Senior Social worker and Social Work Clinical Educator, Natalie El-Bazouni Grade 1 social worker, Sophie Eccles Grade 1 social worker, Gloria Hernandez Grade 1 social worker, Alia Sayegh Grade 1 social worker. 

Sitting (left to right): Chaminda Dayasiri Grade 1 social worker, Emeil Boddenberg Grade 1 social worker, Jessica Grgat Grade 1 social worker.