A unique program launched in 2022 at St Stephen’s Hospital in Hervey Bay is offering graduate physiotherapists the opportunity to gain both regional and metropolitan hospital experience in their first year after university.
Over 12 months, graduates will complete two six-month rotations, the first at St Stephen’s Hospital and the second at one of UnitingCare’s larger hospitals in Brisbane – St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital or The Wesley Hospital.
Originally from Cairns, Ruby Martin, is among the first to benefit from the new program.
“When I first started, it felt like a real jump from university! But training at St Stephen’s has taught me to think quickly on my feet and it’s helping me to develop my physio instincts, which you just can’t learn through theory in the classroom,” Ruby said.
“The first three months of my placement at St Stephen’s involved caring for acute patients, including many who had orthopaedic surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements.
“Next I moved into our rehabilitation unit where I have been working with patients recovering from a range of illnesses, injuries and surgeries,” she said.
The program also offers graduates accommodation in Hervey Bay to ensure their ability to be a part of the experience is not limited by financial pressures.
“I had never been to Hervey Bay before starting at St Stephen’s, but having now been here for six months, I absolutely love it! I often run into my patients at the shops and it’s just been a wonderful experience not only for my career but also within the local community,” Ruby said.
“From the get-go, I’ve felt so welcomed and supported. I feel so lucky every day to have this opportunity and to be doing what I’m doing, living and working here in Hervey Bay.”
St Stephen’s Hospital Allied Health Manager, Natasha Holland, said the program not only offers invaluable experience for graduates, but has the added benefit of attracting great talent to the Fraser Coast.
“Each hospital rotation will help the physiotherapists to develop different skill sets. Regional hospitals often provide a more generalist experience for health professionals, and the opportunity to delve into more skills by caring for a broad range of patients,” Natasha said.
“While in Brisbane, the graduates will likely experience patients who are more seriously ill and may begin specialising their skills in a particular area.”
In Brisbane, Ruby is hoping to gain experience providing physiotherapy treatments for seriously ill patients requiring intensive care with hopes of specialising her skills in this area.