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April 2016

3 women jpeg Cobram District Health registered nurses Genevieve Nielsen, Tracy Michalsky and Fiona Currie.

Cobram values its older nurses

Three registered nurses at Cobram District Health have ‘added value’ to their careers by undertaking research projects.

Genevieve Nielsen, Tracy Michalsky and Fiona Currie undertook projects under a Department of Health and Human Services Nursing and Midwifery Workforce initiative.

The DHHS Nursing and Midwifery Workforce unit has funded a number of projects over the last five years, in response to the Value added: The wisdom of older nurses at work report (2010).

The projects have involved over-45s nurses and midwives across Victoria.

At Cobram District Health, the focus was on two key areas of the mature workforce retention model – ‘learning and development’ and ‘recognition and reward’.

While all three nurses admitted that acquiring research skills was a steep learning curve, they thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.

One project focused on the perceptions of nurses and general practitioners about the Rural Isolated Practice Endorsed Registered Nurse (RIPERN) role, which was introduced at Cobram District Health in 2015.

Another project has implemented an organisation-wide health and wellbeing program, based on research evidence.

The final project was implementation of a mentoring program for new staff in residential aged care.

‘The staff involved in this project have all enjoyed learning about research and the projects have all had a positive impact on the health service,’ said director of clinical services at Cobram District Health David Gullick.

‘We do value our experienced nursing staff and this project has been a great way to ensure we retain their skills and knowledge and expose staff to the benefits of research’.

Cobram District Health partnered with the University of Melbourne to teach research skills to the mature nurses, recognising their years of clinical expertise while acknowledging limited learning and development opportunities in rural areas.

The University of Melbourne, for many years, has provided academic support for health service staff in clinical roles, through the Rural Health Academic Network, as part of the university’s department of rural health.