New girls on the nursing block
JAMIE-Lee Clifford and Georgia Slade, two of Grafton's newest registered nurses, didn't know each other from a bar of soap when they arrived in the hospital's emergency department.
Since then have spent nearly every day working together, comparing experiences along the way.
For 26-year-old Grafton girl Jamie, who has spent time in the hospital as a patient and completed clinical placements there during her degree, her background knowledge of the people and area has been an advantage.
"I've been here plenty of times before so I knew what I was getting myself into," she said.
"I love it. It's just go, go, go."
The local placement has also saved her petrol - during her four-year degree she travelled from Grafton to Southern Cross University, in Coffs Harbour, anywhere
from three to five days a week.
The experience has been a bit different for Georgia, formerly of Evans Head, who after a month is still trying to familiarise herself with her surroundings.
"Everything's new, so I'm still trying to find my way way around the area," she said.
"But I've got good neighbours and good workmates so it hasn't been too difficult.
"The biggest surprise for me was the routine."
The 22-year-old said that with numerous family members in the field, she could not have imagined working in anything but medicine.
She and her aunty went through their nursing degrees together in Lismore, with her aunty graduating just six months before Georgia.
"It's so rewarding - every day is a new experience," Georgia said.
"We are forever learning and to me that's what nursing is all about."
13 new graduates for Grafton Base
LOCAL knowledge will present no problem for the 13 graduate nurses and a midwife who have recently been assigned to Clarence Valley hospitals.
Ten of the graduates were assigned to Grafton Base Hospital last month and three of the nurses have linked with Maclean Hospital.
For many of the graduates, the positions have provided a chance for them to return home after studying in Lismore or Coffs Harbour.
Grafton Base Hospital's director of nursing Paul Schofield said most of the students had attended either the University of New England or Southern Cross University, and all had access to a full-time facilitator to make the transition to full-time professional practice as smooth as possible.
"A large number of these graduates have been on clinical placements here before during their studies," he said. "About 75 % of them are from the area."
Grafton Base Hospital executive officer Dan Madden said that during their one-year contracts, the graduates would gain valuable experience working across a wide range of areas within the hospital, including the operating theatre, orthopedic, surgical and medical wards.
Mr Madden said some of the nurses from last year's graduate intake, who recently completed their contracts, had since found permanent employment at the hospital.
"This is good news for our hospital because it maintains our future workforce," he said.
Northern NSW Local Health District's executive director of nursing and midwifery Annette Symes agreed.
"We are very pleased to welcome the new graduate nurses and midwives, who have chosen to take a rural placement and work in our hospitals," she said.
"Nurses and midwives are an indispensable part of the health system and are central to the care of our patients in both the hospital and community setting."