Grads grow nursing, agriculture capacity for hometown Hamilton

Published:18 February 2020

Prof Nick Klomp, Dean of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences Prof Moira Williamson, graduates Jeanne Pollock, Rebecca Kenny, Lachlan Fitzgerald and Victor Nedziwe, and AVC (Victoria Region) Lara Carton.

They’re committed to their Western Victorian hometowns, and CQUni Nursing and Agriculture graduates are proud their new skills can support their local communities, too.

On Monday 17 February, four CQUniversity graduates celebrated gaining their degrees locally, thanks to CQUni’s partnerships with the Rural Industries Skill Training college, and with Western District Health Service.

Yambuk farmer Victor Nedziwe achieved his Bachelor of Agriculture, while Hamilton Hospital nurses Jeanne Pollock, Lachlan Fitzgerald and Rebecca Kenny all achieved their Bachelor of Nursing.

An enrolled nurse for the past decade, Ms Pollock has juggled full-time work at Western District Health Service in Hamilton, and full-time study to complete her Bachelor of Nursing.

She completed the degree at the end of 2019, and said it couldn’t have happened without CQUniversity’s flexible online delivery.

“There’s nowhere in Hamilton that offers the Bachelor of Nursing face-to-face, so without the online option, I couldn’t have done it – I would have had to quit my job, and leave town while I studied,” she explained.

Instead, with the support of WDHS and CQUni, she was also able to complete her required placements at Hamilton Hospital, and attend just three practical residentials in Queensland during the two-year course.

Last month, the three Nursing graduates began graduate years as registered nurses at Hamilton Hospital, and are also taking on the Master of Nursing program with CQUni – amongst 15 postgraduate positions sponsored by WDHS.

With her parents and husband also attending the graduation to cheer her on, Ms Pollock said she was excited to be able to grow her career in local region.

“Working in a community where you know so many people, it does make it very personal when you treat them, and I think it can be really reassuring for patients, too,” she said.

“It does make you really consider every action, I think I have a very thoughtful approach because of it.”

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp also attended the ceremony, along with Associate Vice-Chancellor (Victoria Region) Lara Carton, and Dean, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences Professor Moira Williamson.

Ms Carton said CQUniversity was passionate about supporting people to study and grow their careers in their own community.

“We are proud to have strong partnerships with industry in regional Victoria, including these wonderful partnerships in Hamilton with Western District Health Service and Rural Industries Skill Training,” she said.

“We know when students are supported to study in regional areas, they are more likely to stay in regional areas to work after graduation, and that’s a great thing for the students, and for their communities.”

CQUniversity Dean, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences Prof Moira Williamson applauded WDHS’s commitment to local skills development.

“We know that Australia-wide, regional areas face a shortage of registered nurses, so CEO Rohan Fitzgerald and Nursing Director Lorraine Hedley have been proactive about ensuring the region can meet future needs,” she said.

“It’s been so exciting to see these students learn and develop their skills in their own community, and to work with WDHS for such a great result.”

WDHS chief executive Rohan Fitzgerald said he was proud of the graduates, and thrilled that Hamilton Hospital would benefit from their new qualifications.

“It has been a real pleasure to see these staff grow their nursing careers at ‘home’ in Hamilton and I congratulate each of them on gaining their Bachelor degrees; what a fantastic achievement," he said.

"We are very excited about the potential of the CQUniversity program to support more people to train and work right here in their local community.

"The construction of a new Clinical Skills Lab at Hamilton Hospital in the coming months is a further demonstration of our commitment to creating more work and training opportunities for people living in our region."

As well as working and studying, last year Ms Pollock supported her husband to open a small business, offering metal fabrication services, and the couple moved to nearby tiny township of Branxholme.

“It was definitely a big year, but it’s exciting!” she said.

“I’ve lived in Hamilton since I was eight, and it’s a small town but it’s got everything that we need – so you do feel proud that you can help it grow, too.”