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A place called home

27 January 2022

Meet our caregivers
Clinical Nurse Specialist and Quality Officer Alison King explains why, 12 years after completing her graduate nursing program, she continues to call our Hawkesbury hospital home.

What is your role?

My job is Clinical Nurse Specialist Critical Care, however I am currently in the role of Acting Quality Officer at Hawkesbury District Health Service.

When did you complete your graduate program and where?

I completed my registered nurse graduate program in 2010 at the same hospital I work at now, Hawkesbury District Health Service.

What has your journey looked like since your graduate program?

After completing my graduate program, I was able to stay at Hawkesbury and begin working full time in the Emergency Department before rotating to intensive care.

After a few years, I chose to leave to gain experience in a larger hospital, however, though I appreciated the learning opportunities afforded to me in a tertiary facility, I soon realised how much I missed the “community” feel at Hawkesbury District Health Service. When a full time position came up in the Hawkesbury ICU, I was excited to return to where I felt was “home” for me.

Since then, I’ve become a Clinical Nurse Specialist and have had the opportunity to work on unit improvement projects, as well as hospital-wide projects, implementing policies, procedures and audits. I also played a key role in ensuring our hospital successfully achieved accreditation against the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.

What benefits did your graduate program deliver? What benefits have you reaped since?

St John of God Health Care’s graduate programs have always offered many benefits.  One of the key benefits for me at the time was having access to more rotations than other public and private hospitals, with the opportunity for a rotation in a specialty area of interest (such as emergency, intensive care and theatres).

For each rotation, in addition to having the Clinical Nurse Educator watch over us, we were assigned a mentor from that ward to help us get orientated and to act as our ‘go-to’ person for any questions or problems. 

Since day one, St John of God Health Care has provided a nurturing environment to work in, with senior nurses having always been willing to mentor and share their knowledge with new or early career nurses. 

Something else I love is that St John of God Health Care endeavours to support caregivers wanting to branch out or step up into new roles or areas. For example, leadership programs designed to train and up-skill caregivers for leadership or management roles within the organisation. I’ve consistently received a lot of support from other caregivers and management, which I’ve appreciated over the years.

How has it been working in the hospital with COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all caregivers. Everyone has been stretched to their limits with the situation constantly changing within the hospital. Clinical and non-clinical staff alike have been affected. 

Hawkesbury has tried to support us all throughout the pandemic in many ways. When people were getting irritation from the masks we were all given tubes of barrier cream to protect our skin. When caregivers working with suspected COVID-19 patients were concerned about bringing it home on their uniforms, laundered scrubs were provided to use in the high-risk areas. Non-clinical caregivers who are able to, were given the ability to work from home as necessary to reduce the risk of exposure. 

There have also been some sweet gestures made by the hospital to try and raise morale such as coffee vans brought in for the day to serve us all free coffee and even a van serving churros.

Why would you recommend our hospitals as great places for graduates?

Having been through the graduate program myself and now working alongside the Learning and Development (education) team who deliver the program, I know how much St John of God Health Care invests in and cares about its graduates. Graduates get a nurturing and supportive environment beyond just their first year of work, which is part of the reason I’ve called Hawkesbury my home for all this time.

The education team definitely go above and beyond when assistance is required, for example, helping graduates with accommodation when they relocate to the area or providing the opportunity for students to complete additional clinical hours to enable them to graduate.

Hawkesbury District Health Service also offers graduates the security of knowing they have a position once they finish their program.

I really do love working at St John of God Health Care and would highly recommend it to new graduates who are looking to take this first step in their career.
Alison King
Alison King - Clinical Nurse Specialist - Critical Care

Alison King is a Clinical Nurse Specialist Critical Care and Quality Officer at Hawkesbury District Health Service. 

Having undertaken her registered nurse graduate program at Hawkesbury in 2010, Alison has held several positions at the hospital including registered nurse roles in the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit in addition to clinical nurse specialist and quality roles more recently.