A small afternoon tea celebration was held on Monday 19 February to honour the hard work of the five nurses who completed the new entry to practice (NETP) nursing programme in 2017.
From left to right: Lara Hancock, Avon Medical Centre, Laina Bolton, Huntly West Medical Centre, Amy Tuhoro, Hillcrest Medical Centre and ·Rochelle Jakeman, Ngati Ruanui.
Tayla Thomspon, Mercury Bay Medical Centre was unable to join the group on the day, but still gratefully received flowers from the Pinnacle team.
The programme began as a pilot in 2008, and while it has been through a few iterations Pinnacle's commitment to nursing workforce development has never wavered. Partnering with DHBs across the network, Pinnacle Incorporated offers five contestable places on the programme each year.
The programme is designed to integrate and consolidate knowledge in a supportive environment in the nurses first year of practice.
Practices employ the graduate for 12 months, with a financial support package from Pinnacle that ensures the graduate nurse has a comprehensive orientation to general practice. This includes completing three core courses during the year: vaccinator, cervical smear takers level 7, and diabetes level 7.
The DHB provides study days, funding for a postgraduate paper and support to complete a portfolio which evidences competency at registered nurse level, while Pinnacle MHN provides comprehensive support for the new graduates and their preceptors, and is responsible for coordinating and monitoring the programme.
"The new nurses have a new mind set as they have come through quite a different education pathway. They have an ability to critically reflect, and to challenge the status quo. This is so important for the development of nursing," says Sally Newell, Pinnacle MHN nurse lead.
"Working alongside this programme is a highlight of my role," she adds.
Her sentiment is echoed by Hilde Mullins, Sally's fellow Pinnacle MHN nurse lead.
"There is a great retention rate for those who go through this programme, they stay in general practice and the calibre keeps getting higher and higher. The new nurses also have the ability to really invigorate a practice, re-engaging their fellow nurses in education and upskilling."
The 2017 NETP nurses certainly felt privileged to have been a part of the programme. The room was full of smiles and gratitude, acknowledging it isn't so easy for others who don't have the opportunity.
"The monthly support meetings were great, they made me feel less alone," says Laina. "It was good to connect with my peers and share experiences, as well as talk things through with Hilde and Sally."
"It's a big year with high demands, getting to grips with being a registered nurse and wearing that responsibility, but also transitioning from study to working. The study we did over the year I found really enriching, it was really applicable and definitely changed my practice," says Rochelle.
The group were all drawn into general practice for similar reasons, wanting to be more connected with their community and have more time with patients - seeing the same people and having opportunities to get to know them.
"I was attracted to general practice as I felt there was more of a health promotion and prevention focus," says Lara.
Amy agreed. "General practice also feels more holistic, you get to care for the person and their wh?nau. I also feel you get to support their journey instead of being in a hospital where their journey is more determined for them rather than by them."
Laina remarked on developing her engagement skills throughout the year. "You needed to really work hard on forming a relationship so you felt people understood what you were saying and would go home and make a change, not keep doing what they've been doing."
Knowing the 2018 NETP students were to start their year of study the following day the group was full of advice for them.
"Seek support - ask questions at your practice and use the group," says Amy. Laina agreed and said it was a turning point for her when she realised she didn't need to have all the answers, and sometimes the more experienced nurses she worked with didn't either. "Learning is a life long journey, I get that now."
Rochelle says it will take a couple of months, but getting to grips with being 'the nurse' in the room is important. "Accept yourself as a registered nurse, stop calling yourself a new grad as that can hold you back. Push yourself and let the confidence flow."
Amy, Laina and Lara all want to remind the 2018 group to think about their work-life balance and looking after themselves. Using the day off for study and booking leave before the postgrad paper starts, or after it ends to celebrate were suggestions. And while they all describe the year as being hard, the rewards were definitely there and more study is on the horizon for them all, with biological science, long term conditions and perhaps mental health the next topics on the to do list.