30 July 2021
9 new nurse graduates join South West HHS – 35 for year
Nine new nursing graduates will start their careers with the South West Hospital and Health Service from
9 August.
The nine new graduates bring to 35 the total number of new nurses and midwives who have joined the
South West HHS this year, including 17 graduates who started in February and a further nine who
started in January and late December last year.
South West HHS Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services Chris Small said the size of the
graduate intake this year was reflective of the continuing strong interest among graduates in joining the
health service.
“The South West HHS is being viewed by new graduates as an increasingly attractive area in which to
pursue their careers,’’ he said.
All the new graduates undergo a week’s orientation at Roma Hospital before being assigned to health
facilities throughout the region,
“They will be working in a variety of areas, including acute medical, surgical, emergency, maternity, aged
care, community and primary health and supporting the hospital-based ambulance in the facilities where
these are located,’’ Mr Small said.
The nine graduates have been allocated two each to Quilpie and Roma and one each to Mungindi, St
George, Charleville, Augathella and Cunnamulla.
For two of the new graduates, it will be a return home to the South West, with Keely McDermott hailing
originally from Roma and Lily Collier from Mungindi.
Ms McDermott will undertake her graduate program at Roma Hospital while Ms Collier has been posted
to Mungindi Multipurpose Health Service.
Keely McDermott’s story:
Ms McDermott, who earned her degree at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said she was keen to
get back to home and family at Roma.
A St John’s Catholic School graduate, Ms McDermott said her mother, also a registered nurse and
midwife, had inspired her to become a nurse.
“I am passionate about helping people. I look up to my mum and I saw that nursing was a rewarding
career,’’ she said.
Ms McDermott said the South West Hospital and Health Service’s mission statement – “To be a national
leader in the delivery of health services to rural and remote communities” – also had really resonated
with her.“Growing up in a rural town myself, I saw first-hand the need for equity and access to quality healthcare
and the need for health promotion within the community,’’ she said.
“Ultimately, I want to contribute to that goal, to be a part of the solution and make a difference.
“I see the need for my clinical skills as being greater in rural and remote communities than in the city.’’
Ms McDermott said she was also looking forward to doing post-graduate work in emergency nursing.
“Emergency is ultimately where I want to end up,’’ she said.
“However, for the time being, I am just looking forward to working alongside the experienced team in
Roma and consolidating my clinical knowledge with clinical experience.’’
Lily Collier’s story:
St George-born and Mungindi-raised graduate Lily Collier also did her nursing degree through the
University of the Sunshine Coast.
“I left town as an early teenager to finish high school and went on to complete my bachelor’s degree in
nursing science as well,’’ Ms Collier said.
“But Mungindi is still my hometown, and I feel incredibly blessed to be able to return as an adult. My dad
has lived here since he was a young man and I am very excited to be close to him again.
“From the minute I left Mungindi, I knew I wanted to come back.
“There is something so special about living in smaller communities. You grow together in the good times
and band together when things are tough.
“Becoming a Registered Nurse has afforded me the opportunity to get back to my roots.
“I am ready to grow into a well-rounded, multi-skilled nurse and appreciate that being at home makes me
grateful for the small things in life.’’
Ms Collier said that growing up in a rural town made her aware of the challenges of accessing health
“My family would often travel for dental, allied health or specialist services,’’ she said.
“And we accessed the Royal Flying Doctor Service on multiple occasions following farming accidents, a
nasty appendix and obstetric care when my brothers were born.
“This made continuity of care really hard to attain.
“But through every challenge, the nurses at the Mungindi Hospital remained consistent.
“They have always been dedicated, calm and compassionate. “As a young girl in the bush, they quickly became my local heroes and I aspired to, one day, be just like
“An older nurse in Toowoomba once said to me, ‘a nurse calms the seas in every life storm’.
“And what better way to spend your life than to be able to do that for others.’’
Ms Collier said she planned to continue her studies by pursuing a master’s degree in rural and remote
health, as well as undertaking postgraduate study in midwifery.
“If I have learned anything through nursing it is that we never stop learning,’’ she said.
“Rural and remote nursing allows me the flexibility to work in all areas of health, keep up to date on a
wide range of nursing skills and support those who are vulnerable in times of need.
“But for now, I am just very grateful to be where I am. Learning, working, and giving back to a community
that has known and embraced me for my entire life.’’
Mr Small said the new August intake graduates included a dual degree nursing graduate, who had done
both a nursing and a paramedic degree.
He said dual-trained nursing and paramedicine graduates undertook the same 12-month graduate
transition program as all the other newly graduated nursing and midwifery staff.
The difference for them was that their program was split between the health service and the Queensland
Ambulance Service, spending six months with each organisation, he said.
“Our August intake dual degree graduate, Hanna Pakoa, will do her initial six-month placement at the
Quilpie Multipurpose Health Service before transferring to either Roma, St George or Charleville to do
her QAS placement,’’ he said.
“In many of our smaller, more isolated communities, the local ambulance services are operated out of
the local health facility by hospital and health service employees.
“Our nurses staff these hospital-based ambulances, backed by a volunteer driver program that is
supported by the QAS.
“As our nurses are first responders to an incident in these situations, it actually makes very good sense
for them to have both nursing and paramedical skills.
“It’s also an attractive career option as it allows the successful graduate to choose a career either in
nursing or paramedicine, and to swap over more easily later in their careers if they want a change.
“It also improves the capacity of both the health service and the QAS to attract and retain staff as it gives
staff more options for their future career progression.’’ Mr Small said the South West Hospital and Health Service had partnered formally with QAS in 2018 to
introduce the dual-trained registered nurse/paramedic program – the first in Queensland – following an
initial earlier trial.
Since then, the dual degree program has proved very popular with graduates.
Mr Small said the South West HHS was committed to providing training opportunities for graduate
nurses and midwives.
“There’s no denying how important nurses are in our community and to our health service,’’ Mr Small
“Nurses make up almost 50 per cent of our health service workforce; they provide care at almost every
stage of our lives across our GP clinics, our hospitals and in the community.
“I wish each and every one of the nurses starting over the next few weeks the best of luck as they
embark on this next stage of their careers.”