IRON nurses strength­en­ing Alpine Health

Alpine Observer - - News -

By STRUAN JONES

IF you’ve rarely or never had oc­ca­sion to visit the Alpine Health hos­pi­tals at Myrtle­ford, Bright or Mount Beauty, you are prob­a­bly un­aware of the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional nurses work­ing and train­ing there.

Alpine Health has an in­ter­na­tional train­ing pro­gram called Ini­tial Reg­is­tra­tion for Over­seas Nurses (IRON), which pro­vides 12-week cour­ses for in­ter­na­tional nurses to study and adapt to Aus­tralian nurs­ing prac­tices.

The pro­gram, started 10 years ago as a means of procur­ing and keep­ing full-time nurs­ing staff, and has gone from strength to strength and grown from 18 trainees in its first year to its cur­rent 105 stu­dents per year.

De­spite at­tract­ing nurses from Nepal, China, Iran, In- done­sia, and In­dia, it has tended over time to be most pop­u­lar with nurses from the Philip­pines.

Upon com­ple­tion, IRON nurses are able to ap­ply for a work visa and full-time roles in the hos­pi­tals or else­where, and cur­rently Alpine Health em­ploys 12 of the grad­u­ates full-time.

Cor­po­rate ser­vices man­ager at Alpine Health Nick Shaw said the ge­n­e­sis of the pro­gram was sim­ply to en­sure the hos­pi­tals had a nurs­ing work­force.

“This is not just an ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram, it’s a model for work­force re­cruit­ment to sus­tain the ru­ral health­care sec­tor,” he said.

He said the pop­u­lar­ity of the pro­gram with Filipino nurses was not by de­sign, but just in­clined that way as the word spread.

Plus, he said, there is a lot of de­mand for Filipino nurses be­cause their English and nurs­ing skills are very good.

The small Myrtle­ford Filipino com­mu­nity has grad­u­ally grown over the past few years on the back of the pro­gram, and many among the hos­pi­tal staff hope it’s a trend that will con­tinue, bol­ster­ing the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the health­care ser­vices in the re­gion.

Filipa Withers, ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing man­ager, said it has been great to see in­ter­na­tional nurses come to the Alpine re­gion and get mar­ried, have fam­i­lies and es­tab­lish them­selves.

“The rea­son we got into the game was be­cause we couldn’t get staff, but the great out­comes are not just em­ploy­ment, but com­mu­nity in­te­gra­tion and sup­port for us,” she said.

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