GRADUATE nurses will this year be able to work in cancer services for the first time at Bendigo Health.
About 80 new graduate nurses and midwives have started at the hospital for the 2020 graduate program.
Those numbers are up from 50 graduates in 2015, with Bendigo Health hoping to expand the program to 100 graduates by 2025.
"When you expand numbers, you also have to look at different opportunities," the hospital's chief nursing and midwifery officer David Rosaia said.
"We've gone from not only having graduate nurses in our in-patient areas, but looking at specialist fields such as the emergency department, our hospital and home program, and this year we have expanded to our cancer centre.
"It provides and maintains a skilled workforce. The graduate program is all about preparing our nurses to make that transition from university to a physical hospital environment."
Graduate nurse Stacey Southon said she was looking forward to working in the oncology department.
"It's a very exciting time to start a career in nursing, especially with the new cancer opportunity for a graduate nurse," she said. "I'm a Bendigo girl, so I won't have to travel to those metro areas.
"For a graduate nurse, it's pretty exciting so hopefully I will be able to do more training and it leads to more opportunities."
Bendigo Health is also offering a new registered nurse and midwife program in 2020, which will allow double degree graduates to experience both specialities straight out of university.
Amber Angel will be starting the program as a graduate nurse and midwife.
"It's great," she said. "It definitely is good to be able to do both - you usually will have to do either nursing or midwifery.
"You think about it right from the start (of your degree) and picture yourself starting at the hospital in your position. It's a bit surreal to be finally here."
Mr Rosaia said the graduate program would help boost the Bendigo Health workforce.
"The best way to recruit to any organisation is via the graduate program," he said. "We've identified that it is a great working strategy for our organisation - particularly for nurses and midwives.
"We have made a commitment as an organisation that we offer ongoing contracts. A lot of metro graduate programs only do it for the 12-month period, but as a large regional provider we've offered it ongoing."
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