Four nurses embark on an exciting new pilot program in regional Queensland

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Jill Sullivan, Mieke Steffens, Jennifer Watts, Kara Doherty

Jill Sullivan, Mieke Steffens, Jennifer Watts, Kara Doherty

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A Queensland-first program is attracting people from the city to the country, to allow them to grow their skills in a rural town.

Darling Downs Health secured funding from the Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer for four placements across the region.

One of the successful applicants is Kara Doherty, who will now call Dalby home for at least six months after relocating from Brisbane.

“I felt like it was time to do something a bit different, and I’ve always wanted to do rural work so I saw this program and thought it was a great opportunity,” Ms Doherty said.

“Everyone is so friendly and so nice, it’s an amazing team environment and people are going out of their way to help me learn.”

The new state-of-the-art Kingaroy Hospital is welcoming two staff from the Rural Generalist Registered Nurse Program.

Jill Sullivan has a background in renal nursing at Redcliffe Hospital and was looking to broaden her skill set.

“I enjoy being out of the city and the variety that rural nursing offers,” Ms Sullivan said.

While Mieke Steffens is excited to take part in the program after being a community nurse for 15 years.

“You kind of do a bit of everything in the regions so I’m looking forward to learning new skills,” Ms Steffens said.

And Jennifer Watts has relocated from New South Wales to expand her knowledge at Warwick Hospital.

“I really enjoy the community in regional towns, and the staff and teamwork,” Ms Watts said.

As well as immersing themselves in all areas within a hospital, staff are also embracing a change of scenery and lifestyle.

Assistant Director of Nursing Jodie Turvey said the twelve-month program is the first of its kind for Queensland nurses.

“It’s about building capacity for nurses working in the rural and remote space,” Ms Turvey said.

“After consultation with key stakeholders across the state, we partnered with five HHS regions including Torres and Cape, South West, Central West, Darling Downs and North West.

“We looked at what education and training already existed and the context of rural and remote practice to develop a program with support systems and processes for the participants.

“This program is one of Queensland Health’s strategies to address the workforce challenges in recruitment and retention for rural and remote communities

“The program is being piloted by a total of 17 nurses across Queensland, four of which are on the Darling Downs.

“We’re hoping that they feel supported and really get to love working in rural and remote and see the opportunities that are there.”

Anyone interested in the Rural Generalist Registered Nurse Program who would like to learn more can email: