No Grad Program? No Problem! - Candice Thompson

No Grad Program? No Problem! - Candice Thompson

Hi Candice, Thanks for agreeing to chat with me! Can I start out by asking if you are RN or EN, what state you are from and what year you graduated?
Hello, I am a RN, live in QLD (Brisbane) and graduated in 2018.
Lovely to meet you 🙂 So when you graduated did you apply for any grad programs?
Same here. Yes I applied for private and public (Logan and QCH) plus mater private and Wesley.
And were you offered a position?
Not in that round- I went and worked in aged care from January and applied for QCH grad program in March for September start and did get through then.
Oh awesome! And how was that starting in aged care?
Honestly, I felt worthless and like I was a useless nurse if all I could get was aged care - how did that make me a real nurse? And once I actually started working, I loved it and had a new respect for aged care. Hence wanting to change the stigma attached that was formed all through uni. And my grad program was difficult because I was treated like I didn't know anything even though I had over 8 months experience as an RN. No one cared though, and I struggled transitioning from a nurse role where I was in charge into a role where I was constantly being questioned and had to get "permission" when making decisions.
Oh wow that sounds really tough! And so sad that there is a culture of aged care being "less". If anything you have to be more because the people you are looking after are so vulnerable, they have multiple comorbidities, and you have less resources to work with! Did your grad program get any better as you went through it?
Yes it's pretty sad when it's not real and people are basing it from stigma and not experience - as anything it's not perfect but it's far from the stigma created. The grad program got better in the sense I tried to look at it differently and got "let out on my own" however Qld health culture has a lot to say for it self. The culture is pretty toxic (I am not overly clicky so wasn't too impacted by it but saw others that were) and the clicks are extremely noticeable. I have spoken to many within public hospitals in Qld and it seems a few felt the same - and this is at different hospitals not only the one I was at. Don't get me wrong there are clicks and negative culture in a lot of places and that is 1 of and the main reason Preferred Care started was to create a workplace that has a positive culture with support and is human. I don't want my staff to feel like another number and that they are easily replaceable. I want them to feel valued and respected and have a positive work culture. We are not at all perfect but we try.
So how long had you been nursing when you decided to start Preferred Care? And can you tell me more about what was actually involved in getting it up and running?
2 years nursing and now three years as I still do shifts within the agency as well especially when we have such a staffing shortage. It took a lot of background work before getting started; (paper work - policies, procedures, budgets etc), this took roughly 6months. And then working on getting clients which was hard and we hit a tough spot when we got a client and then we lost them as someone didn't go through the right channels and they were never meant to use us. We kept trying and three months later we got our first proper client, followed by another one and its continued that way. Getting clients was hard but with the staffing shortage it's become easier and now it's hard getting full staffing 😂. We also take new graduates and off a buddy system so 1 or 2 buddy shifts where we are there for support if they require it but get them fully on the floor and then 24/7 phone support after that. Plus in aged care you generally always have other nurses around - most agency throw new grads into a shift with no buddy and I personally believe that is unfair and dangerous to the residents and the grads.
It is just so amazing that you have gone out there and started your own agency which sounds like a really supportive and great place to work! Is there anything else you would like to share with students or new grads that are worried about getting a grad position?
Thank you. Yes; do not be so hard on yourself if you don't get one, it means nothing of you as nurse or a person. Unfortunately unis shove grad programs down your throat and scare you into thinking your never getting work if you don't get a grad program and it's not okay because it leaves so many filled with anxiety and class mates start turning again each other to be honest, in third year.... its disgusting. Unis need to change their way of thinking when it comes to nursing. Out of my three years I had one lecturer/nurse talk about the positives of aged care nursing.... that was it. There was no talk about any other nursing except hospital and always acute nursing - its damaging and its sad. I had a GPA of 6.4 and was in honours college and still did not get initial grad program so people also need to realise it also has nothing to do with how well you do. It's so competitive. Oh and also one more thing I am so happy in the end (clearly not at the start I could have not been more negative on myself) that I missed the first grad program and did some nursing on my own, because the workload (study) of your grad can be intense and create burn out especially going from uni to that and for high achievers.
Thank you so much for sharing 🙂
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1 comment

This was an awesome read. I am pleased that I am not the only one who has seen the clicks when on placement. I have applied to the Graduate programs but not offered, however, I have a job waiting jist as soon as I have my registration from AHPRA. I have worked previously in GP Land and loved the work i did and find that is my area. I don’t want to be working in a hospital environment with the toxicity that I have seen time and time again its not healthy. But I love the fact that you have made a safe place for grads to turn to when they need help too. Awesome job in all you have done.

Staples Lee-Ann

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