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CQUniversity Alumnus now oversees CQ Graduate Nurse Program

Published:10 May 2019

CQUniversity Alumnus Julie Kahl (right) now oversees the Central Queensland Hospital Health Service Graduate Nurse Program; the same program that kick-started her career 25 years ago, and the career of 60 CQUniversity Nursing graduates in 2019, including Maddison Hoad.

When CQUniversity Alumnus Julie Kahl graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing in 1993, she had no idea that her imminent career would come full circle – back to where it all began.

Ms Kahl entered the nursing profession as a Graduate Nurse with Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS) at the Rockhampton Base Hospital in 1994, where she quickly fell in love with paediatrics.

In the years that followed, Ms Kahl worked a number of different roles, all of which taught her something valuable.

“I did a short stint in Woorabinda, and ever since then, I have always had an affiliation with the challenges in rural communities. I’ve also worked in a variety of support roles, such as an after-hours Nurse Manager, which improved my ability to think on my feet, and as a Nurse Unit Manager, which developed my love of research,” she said.

“Research soon became my core focus when I joined the CQHHS Education and Research Team in the role of nurse educator, and later in Clinical Practice Improvement, where I was fortunate enough to do some project work on behalf of Queensland Health and working closely with the Patient Safety Unit.”

Ms Kahl’s clinical experience led her to be appointed CQHHS Nursing Director Education and Research in 2015. This was a role she never imagined herself taking on.

“In fact, I never thought that I’d leave the clinical space,” she said.

“But I have always placed the patient at the centre of everything I do, and have believed that with higher education levels, our staff will be able to provide the best experience in the world for the patients they care for.

“My role is very diverse. I am accountable for the internal Nursing and Midwifery programs across CQHHS (11 facilities), including its Graduate Nurse Program – the same program that kick-started my nursing career back in 1994.

“I also form part of an incredible team that encourages and supports great learning opportunities for our staff. Together, we manage all nursing and midwifery clinical placement orientation, clinical upskilling programs, clinical improvement initiatives, and much more.

“I love my job because it’s so diverse and I can see the tangible improvements we are making for nurses and midwives each year, which indirectly improves the patient experience.”

In 2018, CQHHS hired 81 graduates as part of its 2019 Graduate Nurse Program intake. Of these, 60 were from CQUniversity, including Rockhampton-based graduate Maddison Hoad, whose early career is surprisingly like that of Ms Kahl’s.

Late last year, Ms Hoad accepted a Graduate Nurse position with CQHHS in paediatrics and absolutely loves it.

“The most enjoyable aspect of my job is the support and comfort we provide to our patients’ families. I love being able to talk with older kids and distract them from the reason they’re in hospital; to ensure them that the hospital is a safe place to be,” she said.

“This far outweighs the challenging aspects, including the sheer amount of information there is to learn about caring for children.

“And it’s for this reason that I hope to stay in paediatrics once I complete my graduate position. I want to continue to provide my patients with the best possible care I can, daily, as well as work with my incredibly supportive team.”

Ms Hoad, who is currently studying a Master of Clinical Nursing and a State-wide transition program through Children’s Health Queensland, is inspired every day by the nurses she works with.

“In a hospital setting, nurses are with the patient 24 hours a day and are often the ones who pick up deterioration. On a much more personal level, nurses provide comfort, support, and empathy to people at their most vulnerable times,” she said.

“Nurses, like Julie Kahl, are also working in managerial roles, showing empathy and organisation in their interactions with their staff. Each nurse plays an incredibly important role within society and I’m extremely proud to be one.”