Above: Samantha Reeves at Quilpie MPHS & Jodie McCallum with the QAS at Roma.

The South West Hospital and Health Service has partnered with the Queensland Ambulance Service to
offer an attractive career option for registered nurses in the region.

South West HHS Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services Chris Small said the health
service and QAS were working together to promote the concept of dual-trained registered nurses.

“These are nurses who have completed a dual degree in paramedicine and nursing,’’ Mr Small said.

“Upon completing their studies, these dual-trained nurses undertake the same 12-month graduate
transition program as all our newly graduated nursing staff, except that their program will be split
between the health service and the QAS, spending six months with each organisation.

“In many of our smaller, more isolated communities, the local ambulance services are actually operated
out of the local hospital or health facility by hospital and health service employees.

“Our nurses staff these hospital-based ambulances, supported by a volunteer driver program
coordinated 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 HHS already had an enviable retention rate for new graduate nurses,
which had reached about 86 per cent last year.

“Over the past several years, we have experienced a steadily growing level of interest from new nurse
graduates in joining our health service, which is reflective of the fact the South West HHS is being
viewed as an attractive area in which to pursue their careers,’’ he said.

“This is a tremendous effort for any rural health service and – along with our high retention rate – shows
how committed we are to develop the rural nursing and midwifery workforce of the future, as well as
expanding our permanent nursing and midwifery workforce.

“One of the ways in which we are doing this is by providing training opportunities for graduate nurses
and attractive options for career progression – such as the dual paramedicine-nursing program.

“The dual career program also helps build increased partnership and collaboration between
organisations such as ours and the QAS that work extremely closely in rural and remote areas.’’

Mr Small said the South West HHS had three nursing staff – Samantha Reeves at Quilpie, Jodie
McCallum in Roma and Sarah Cleary at Augathella – currently undertaking the dual program.

Ms Reeves undertook her dual degree at the Queensland University of Technology after finishing high
school in Sandgate, just north of Brisbane.

“I was thinking about what degree to do and I thought nursing would be a good career. You can help
people and it also lets you move around and do different things,’’ she said.

“Once I’d decided that, I then thought, well I might as well do two degrees and I thought paramedicine
would fit in nicely with my nursing degree and sounded really interesting, so I decided to do both.’’

Currently, Ms Reeves is working as a Registered Nurse at Quilpie Multipurpose Health Service before
swapping over to the Queensland Ambulance Service at Roma for six months from 13 August.

“I haven’t decided yet which route I might go down long-term. I’m pretty keen on a nursing career for the
long term but I did enjoy my paramedicine studies and would certainly like to try that for a while,’’ she
said.

Ms McCallum also undertook her dual degree at the Queensland University of Technology.

She is currently working as a paramedic with the QAS in Roma during the first half of her graduate year
and will then start work as a Registered Nurse with the South West HHS in Augathella on 13 August.

She will replace Ms Cleary as an RN at Augathella MPHS, while Ms Cleary goes on to start her six
months with the QAS.

“I had already been working as an Assistant in Nursing with the Metro North HHS in Zillmere as a way to
develop my skills and help people while studying,’’ Ms McCallum said.

“I chose the dual paramedicine and nursing degree because I wanted to challenge myself and explore
my potential in a health career.’’

“When I was looking at where to go to start my new career once I graduated, I took a chance in applying
to the South West before knowing about the dual graduate program, and I haven’t looked back since,’’
she said.

Ms McCallum completed her degree on a full-time basis, while continuing to work part-time.

The dual nursing-paramedicine degree currently is available in Queensland through both QUT and the
Australian Catholic University.

PHOTO CAPTIONS

• Samantha Reeves at Quilpie MPHS.
• Jodie McCallum with the QAS at Roma.

ENDS

For further information contact:
James Guthrie
Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld
Media and Communication
Department of Health
(07) 3708 5379
Jim.Guthrie@health.qld.gov.au