On-the-job nursing experience in Mildura

Second-year nursing students based at La Trobe University’s Mildura campus are working at Mildura Base Public Hospital to help ease the hospital’s workload, while gaining valuable on-the-job experience before they graduate.

Four La Trobe students are currently part of the Registered Undergraduate Student Nursing (RUSON) program, with the hospital seeking to employ a fifth RUSON in the coming months.

Working under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse, RUSONs are required to have completed at least one year of a Bachelor of Nursing. The paid role requires them to assist with tasks such as patient showering and dressing, feeding, manual handling and mobility, and therapeutic communication.

Acting Mildura Head of Campus, Sandra Connor, said the program is both a win for students and the hospital.

“At a time when health services across the state are stretched due to nursing shortages caused by the pandemic, the support our students provide is critical in easing the pressure on nurses, and helps in maintaining high levels of care for patients,” Ms Connor said.

“Our students also gain a huge amount from the experience – practising important skills and developing an understanding of working in a hospital environment before they graduate.

“It’s also an effective way for them to support themselves financially while they’re still studying, and develop strong local connections,” Ms Connor said.

Second-year nursing student Lavinia Marabito said her experience as a RUSON has been extremely positive.

“After eight months in the role, I am already finding it really helpful in understanding the hospital environment, and the basics of the role,” Ms Marabito said.

“By assisting with tasks and observing what the Registered Nurses do, I feel more prepared for my clinical placements, and for my future work.

“It has taken weight off my shoulders in terms of what is to come – and has also confirmed that I absolutely love the profession,” Ms Marabito said.

Around 120 students are currently enrolled in La Trobe University’s Bachelor of Nursing in Mildura, across the three-year degree.

The campus is preparing for an extension of its nursing labs next year, including new learning spaces that closely resemble a hospital or other clinical setting.

The extension will enable the campus to increase the number of students enrolled in nursing, and give nursing students an opportunity to practice the skills and techniques they will need in a real-world situation, while being safely supported by skilled teaching staff.

At La Trobe Mildura’s graduation ceremony in May, seven of the 27 nursing graduates were male, or around 26 per cent.

Media contact: Kate O'Connor, k.o'connor@latrobe.edu.au, 0436 189 629