In a Queensland first, The Friendlies Hospital has partnered with local high schools to pioneer an innovative vocational training program for Year 12 students.
Fourteen students from Shalom College and Bundaberg State High School this week started practical placements at The Friendlies as part of their Certificate III course in Health Service Assistance.
Completion of the course qualifies students to work as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN).
The Friendlies’ Director of Clinical Services and Patient Safety, Sandy Blake, said the pilot program was aimed at attracting and training the next generation of nurses and carers.
“There’s a shortage of nurses and carers across Australia,” Sandy said.
“It’s important that we encourage young people into the profession and give them practical skills.
“These students are doing the theoretical component at school and will come to The Friendlies for practical training one day a week.
“They’ll be going to the same ward each week, helping the nurses and interacting with patients.”
Sandy said the students would wear uniforms and be “part of the team”.
“They’ll be undertaking tasks like making beds, fetching and carrying for patients,” she said.
“We’ll help them to complete their 80 hours of practical placement and my goal is that some of them will stay to work for us afterwards.”
Sandy said the students would also sit with patients who have cognitive impairment, talk to them and play games, which is important for the wellbeing of those patients.
According to the Australian Government’s Job Outlook service, the number of people working as nursing support and personal care workers is expected to grow strongly in the future. There are likely to be around 64,000 job openings expected in this industry over the next five years.
The Certificate III course gives the skills needed to comply with infection prevention and workplace health and safety (WHS), interpret and apply medical terminology, and recognise healthy body systems.
Students also learn how to transport clients and carry out nursing assistant duties in a range of settings.
Bec Egan, from the Link and Launch program at Bundaberg State High School, said it was vital to train young people to meet the growing demand for jobs in the health sector.
“This is an incredible stepping stone for our students,” Bec said.
“Without practical training their prospects of securing entry-level nursing jobs after graduating Year 12 would be hindered.”
Bec said the concept evolved from a health roundtable held in 2022.
“Our goal is to expand and grow the program in coming years,” she said.
“This is an incredible opportunity for our students and our community.
“The intentional partnership developed through the Industry Reference Group comprising Bundaberg principals and key industry members has been vital in the development and implementation of this program.”
An induction day was held for students and parents on Monday.
There were also guests present from Bundaberg Regional Council, the Bundaberg Jobs Commitment, schools and industry groups.
Comments from students
Paige Harris, Year 12 Bundaberg State High School:
I think the benefits are just seeing what the health care work is like and seeing if you enjoy it and know what you’re doing. It’s a good opportunity to try it out. I just love nursing, so it’s definitely something that I want to do. The practical training is very important. It means we’re able to be hands on and learn these skills.
Lalana Lynch, Shalom College:
It will help me get into a pathway of nursing, which is where I want to be in my career. It’s just a good opportunity for students. The practical training is quite important if you want to be a nurse, because at school we just do theory work.
Names of the students
- Ella Staley
- Lalana Lynch
- Emily Jecs
- Ella Ferguson
- Emma Stack
- Indiana Woods
- Ashleigh Montford
- Tanika Hartfield
- Tyla Royan
- Olivia Freney
- Indiana Sly
Bundaberg State High School:
- Paige Harris
- Sierra Irwin
- Sienna Maher