‘Growing our own’- educational framework to assist with the recruitment, professional development and retention of emergency nurses

Danielle Waddell1, Tracey Ingvorsen1, Vanessa Leonard-Roberts1, Elise Sutton1, Elizabeth Ward1, Adam Watts1, Stacey Williamson1

1Northern Health, Melbourne, Australia

Background:A critically high nursing EFT deficit of 21% in late 2015 in the Emergency Department (ED) at The Northern Hospital (TNH), particularly postgraduate trained emergency nurses led to a review of the current education programs in 2016.

Aim:Review of current educational programs and strategies, and development of an educational pathway to prepare and promote junior nurses to undertake postgraduate emergency nursing studies within our ED.

Method:In 2016, TNH employed additional clinical support nurses to  supervise undergraduate nurses on placement in ED. Prior to this, education was provided by the relevant university. Incorporating undergraduate nurses in our program allowed us to develop ED specific education for our junior workforce. Graduate nurse rotations were increased from 12 to 16 per year to meet interest demand, with targeted education to prepare these nurses for our grade 2 Supported Transition Emergency Practice program (STEP).  Theoretical content and clinical assessments for STEP were aligned with postgraduate course content, including encouragement to undertake the advanced pathophysiology subject at Melbourne University which forms part of the Graduate Certificate in Emergency nursing.

Conclusion:Re-alignment of our educational programs to promote the professional development of our junior nurses has proved a success. 18 months after its implementation, we have provided structured educational support to:

  • 170 undergraduate nurses
  • 20 graduate nurses (70% of graduate nurses completed an undergraduate rotation in TNH ED)
  • 34 STEP participants (53% of ED STEP completed an ED graduate rotation)
  • 25 postgraduate students (80% of postgraduate students were from STEP)

The educational alignment has allowed TNH ED to develop our novice nurses from an undergraduate level through to specialist emergency trained nurses. This in turn has decreased the EFT vacancy deficit from 21% to 3% over the last 18 months.


Danielle Waddell:

Currently employed as Clinical Nurse Educator in the Emergency Department at Northern Health. Responsible for the education, co ordination, development and recruitment for all educational programs in the ED /SSU.

Tracey Ingvorsen:

Currently employed as a Clinical Support Nurse in the Emergency Department at Northern Health. Responsible for the education, support and supervision of all junior nurses and holds the undergraduate portfolio.