Debra Casson, once a retail worker and busy mother in Whanganui is now a confident, skilled nurse at Tokoroa Medical Centre, after completing the year-long Midlands Health Network nurse graduate programme in February 2015.
Debra says she wanted to do something important and really make a difference to people’s lives.
“My sister has spina bifida. We were always at the hospital or there was a nurse visiting us at home, so the nurses became extended family over the years, and I knew that nursing is what I wanted to do,” says Debra.
Debra completed a year-long certificate in science and health to see how she would go with study.
“I absolutely loved it and it naturally led on to completing the bachelor of nursing degree, which took three years. I then applied for the graduate programme in three DHBs, getting three interviews.
“Waikato stood out to me, and my first pick was to become a practice nurse. I was asked for an interview at Tokoroa Medical Centre, which was then just at the start of its new phase.
“It gave me an opportunity to work at a practice I wouldn’t have thought about. I wanted to work in a community that had heart… and Tokoroa definitely has that.
“I spent four days per week at the practice, and there were other aspects of the programme including an Auckland University paper and study days at Waikato Hospital. I also had training like the smear takers and vaccinator courses. It’s absolutely a full-on, packed year.
“The best thing about the programme is the support networks available, it’s fantastic. At the start of the process all eight graduate nurses got together for a three-day orientation. We were all on the same boat, and very nervous, but we got to know each other well.
“We had nurse liaisons helping us throughout the year; creating a supportive environment. We were coming out from study into the real world, which is very overwhelming, so it’s fantastic that Midlands Health Network has this on offer. We’ve grown so much, it’s incredible.”
Debra says she left everything and her family at home in Whanganui, which made it difficult for her being alone.
“I travelled to study days from Tokoroa to Waikato Hospital and had minimal access to libraries. There were times I felt so overwhelmed, But I always looked forward to the next day.
“Jo Malcolm, nurse at Tokoroa Medical Centre, was a great preceptor (mentor) and that really made the difference. There was always a rural community feel amongst the team, the nurses would always stop and ask how I was going.”
Debra was offered a full time position at the end of the programme and she did not hesitate to accept it.
“There’s something special about the team at this practice and I really wanted to make the most of it. You don’t know what’s going to come through the door in this rural environment.
“We also have physician associates, medical care assistants and a clinical pharmacist, which is a whole new world, different to other practices. So I feel really grateful to work here.
“My confidence, knowledge and skills have grown. If I wasn’t in a supportive environment, this wouldn’t have happened. I’m extremely proud of where I am now.”
Midlands Health Network delivers the graduate programme as part of Waikato DHB’s Nurses Entry to Practice (NETP) programme. Now in its eight year, it continues to receive a huge number of applicants from across the country.
Also completing the programme with Debra were:
- Kelly Nicholas – Mahoe Med
- Grace Steel – Pihanga Health
- Sarah Longstaff – Ngati Ruanui Healthcare
- Morgan Graham – Northcare Pukete Road
- Trio McFarlane – Three Rivers Medical
The following nurses are taking part in the 2015-2016 programme: