The two of us

Mentor buddies make a splash on the sunshine coast

Source: APNA Primary Times Spring 2020 (Volume 20, Issue 2)

It seems Rebecca Nothdurft was destined to mentor Alicia Safar.

The two nurses first met many years ago when Alicia was a 15-year-old flipping burgers at Hungry Jack’s in Toowoomba, Queensland. Back then Rebecca was her manager.

After leaving Toowoomba, each followed their separate paths but have now been reunited working in general practice on the Sunshine Coast.

Rebecca is mentoring Alicia through APNA’s Transition to Practice Program (TPP), which supports nurses new to primary health care. In fact, you could say it’s a case of out with the ketchup and in with the clinical skills for these two.

“She’s inspirational,” says Alicia when asked to describe Rebecca. “You can call her at any time and she will talk you through your issue step-by-step. The other day she helped reassure me when I was removing dressings from a complex wound; it was great to have that support.”

Dedicated mentoring is a key component of TPP along with a suite of immersive education that grounds participants in the foundations of primary health care.

 

For Alicia, who graduated as a nurse in 2017 but stayed out of the workforce to have her second child, TPP came at just the right time. She had been working as a pharmacy manager at Brightwater when she was recruited to be a nurse at the local Alive and Kicking Medical Practice.

Given this was her first nursing job, she felt the additional support calmed her initial nerves.

She says the mentoring has given her confidence and the APNA education program has helped refresh her memory about some of the practical topics she learnt about at university, including immunisations and ear irrigation.

She also loves working in what she calls “GP land”, where no two days are the same. “The variety keeps you going along with the fact that you’re up close and personal with your regulars,” she says.

For her part, Rebecca is delighted with the way Alicia has taken to primary health care.

“She’s not only the most gentle person you could find, but she is also very motivated,” she says. “You give her a job and she gets stuck into it. I’m so impressed. “She’s also happy to run things by me if she’s not sure."

 

"She often calls with a solution rather than a problem, so I can then tell her if she’s on the right track.”

 

Rebecca is the nurse manager of the three Alive and Kicking Medical Practices in and around Mooloolaba. She says the TPP resources for mentors and online learning tools have helped her “share the love” with other nurses in her team.

She wishes there had been a mentoring program like TPP when she began working in primary health care nine years ago. 

“When I first started in general practice, I felt a bit lost without a nurse manager for clinical support. It was also very different to what I’d been used to in hospital nursing.

“When you’re in a cardiac ward at a hospital, there’s one clear focus. In general practice you have to be across a broad range of clinical issues.

“We get to see the bigger picture, too. So much of what we do is about prevention and screening rather than a quick fix up and a push out the door.”

Asked why she signed up to become a TPP mentor, Rebecca replies: “I love teaching and training. I also wanted that new nurse to have a mentor because I didn’t.”

 

Find out more about the Transition to Practice Program

The Australian Primary Health Care Association acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.


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