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Deadly Start to a health career

[supplied by Griffith Thomas, UniSQ]


Inspiring more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to consider a career in health is a major focus of the Deadly Start program – and the University of Southern Queensland.


The school-based trainee program is designed for Year 11 students interested in pursuing a healthcare pathway with a direct focus on First Nations patient care.


Seven students from five Ipswich schools are currently completing their school-based traineeship through the West Moreton Health system.


The students spend one day per week for six months in a dedicated “Health Hub” at the University of Southern Queensland’s Ipswich campus – home to many of its health and wellness programs – completing their Certificate II in Health Support Services.


In the following 12 months, the students undertake their Certificate III in Health Services Assistance with visits to the Health Hub twice a term while attending their traineeship in Queensland Health hospitals once a week.


Managed by Connect ‘n’ Grow, the hub allows students to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence through a combination of theory and practical work.


Connect ‘n’ Grow expert health trainer and registered nurse Janelle Newton said programs like Deadly Start, which provide culturally safe pathways for students, were vital to building Ipswich’s First Nations health workforce.


“We need more workers in the health industry, especially more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers who can deliver world-class healthcare not only to their community members but to everyone,” she said.


“This program enables the students to see the career opportunities available in healthcare.


“Being here at the University of Southern Queensland is important for them as they see a pathway beyond school, see the potential of going to university and realise that university is not as far out of reach as they may think.”


In addition to workplace experience at the Ipswich Hospital and other Queensland Health hospitals, the students are given hands-on learning opportunities in the University’s nursing simulation labs.


“Being able to do something in a simulated environment, whether it’s learning how to dress a wound, putting an oxygen mask on a patient or taking blood pressure, is the best way to discover if nursing is the right career for you,” University of Southern Queensland nursing lecturer Jessica Elliott said.


“We have an amazing group of students in this program, and I believe all of them would make fantastic nurses if that’s what they choose to pursue.”


Bremer State High School student Jessie Fraser, completing Certificate II and III in Health Support Services and Health Services Assistance, said the Deadly Start program had inspired her to become an oncology nurse.


“I’m enjoying learning about different fields, working alongside other people and gaining lots of experience,” she said.


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