Primary and Mental Health Services Graduate Nurse Transition to Practice Program

On this page:
About the Placement
Clinical Placements
Professional Development
Nursing in Primary and Mental Health Services

For more information contact:

Registered Nurse Transition to Practice Co-ordinator
Primary and Mental Health Services
C/- Allambi, 33-39 Howick Street
Launceston 7250
Phone: 03 6336 4160

About the Placement

Primary and Mental Health Services offers Transition to Practice positions for registered nurses with less than six months experience in community, rural, mental and forensic mental health, alcohol and drug and palliative care settings. In undertaking a position in these settings, nurses have the opportunity to work in a variety of primary health care settings in rural or urban locations in Tasmania.

Limited accommodation is available in some rural health settings, transition to practice registered nurses are required to contact the Registered Nurse Transition to Practice Coordinator to determine the availability of accommodation. Transition to Practice registered nurses working in a community nursing facility are required to hold a current non provisional drivers licence.

In keeping with the Department of Health and Human Services recruitment of novice nurses into designated transition to practice positions, Primary and Mental Health Services offers an extended orientation/nurse induction period to novice registered transition nurses with increased professional support.

Nurses in these placements are supported through:

  • allocation of individual clinical preceptors, along with support by other registered nurses and professionals within the health care team
  • consolidation of knowledge and skills in the clinical practice setting through individualised development plan with regular clinical feedback from designated preceptors and the Nurse Unit Manager.
  • a professional development program tailored to the requirements of registered transition nurses new to the Primary and Mental Health Services settings.
  • a Registered Nurse Transition Coordinator whose primary focus is to provide educational,  clinical and personal support during the transition to practice.

Registered Nurse Transition to Practice placements commence in February and August each year and there is opportunity to undertake the whole of the transition period in a Primary and Mental Health Services setting or a six month placement in Primary and Mental Health Services and a six month placement in a metropolitan hospital or with Child Health and Parenting Service.

Placements are also available for registered transition nurses who complete their degree in March.

Clinical Placements

Clinical placements are available in a variety of Primary and Mental Health Services practice settings. The Nurse Unit Manager and preceptors support, supervise and review the registered transition nurses development in the clinical area.

Placements are offered in the following areas:

Alcohol and Drug Service

The Alcohol and Drug Service is a state-wide service operating in the North, North West and South. The aim of the Service is to provide individuals, families, and communities with quality care and assistance in reducing the harm caused by substance abuse in the way of:

  • Alcohol and Drug Assessment
  • Access to treatment of referral to other services

  • Professional Counselling

  • Group work programs

  • Opioid substitution pharmacotherapy programs

  • In patient withdrawal service and

  • Out reach services to non metropolitan areas.

Whittle Ward/Palliative Care Unit (Hobart)

Whittle Ward is the only public inpatient specialist Palliative Care Unit in Tasmania, caring for people with a life limiting illness where palliation is required. The registered transition nurse working with a multidisciplinary team in both inpatient and community settings will gain experience in symptom control, psychosocial and cultural issues as well as bereavement follow-up.

Health West - Queenstown

On the picturesque and unique west coast of Tasmania, the hospital at Queenstown has 23 acute care beds, 16 aged care beds and a community nursing service. A placement at the Queenstown District Hospital offers the opportunity for the registered transition nurse to practice in acute care, aged care, emergency care and remote health practice.

North Eastern Soldiers Memorial Hospital - Scottsdale

The North Eastern Soldiers Memorial Hospital (NESM) is a rural hospital providing care for 23 acute and 24 nursing home clients/patients. Registered transition nurses work within a multi disciplinary team developing clinical experience in acute or aged care and accident and emergency. Allied Health professionals involved in providing care and working with the registered transition nurse include General Practitioners, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, social worker, community health nurse, primary health care coordinator, ambulance staff and other health workers.

St Helens District Hospital

St Helens District Hospital is a rural health facility with 10 acute care beds and 3-4 Accident and Emergency beds.  A placement at St Helens District Hospital offers a wide variety of clients, including Midwifery, Paediatric, Oncology, Gerontology, Palliative Care and Cardiac. The Hospital is situated in a warm and friendly community, surrounded by beaches on one side and forest on the other. The main industry groups for the area are tourism, fishing and farming.

Smithton District Hospital

Located on the picturesque north-west coast line, Smithton District Hospital provides acute care services. This rural hospital provides registered transition nurses with a diversity of nursing practice and includes acute care and accident and emergency experiences.

Mental Health Sites

Mental Health placements are available in acute settings in Launceston and Burnie. New Norfolk offers mental health placements for registered transition nurses in an inpatient/residential facility.

Forensic Mental Health

Wilfred Lopes Centre is a Forensic Mental Health Unit based in Risdon. It is a specialised field in mental health where registered transition nurses develop a variety of skills from risk assessments, acute care nursing to the management of care within a therapeutic environment.

This unit has a high staff patient ratio enabling registered transition nurses to be part of a supportive therapeutic team.

Community Nursing Centres in Metropolitan Areas

Community Nursing Centres in Launceston and Hobart offer registered transition nurses valuable nursing experience providing health care to clients and their families in the clients home.

Beaconsfield District Health Service

Beaconsfield District health Service is a multi purpose service. Multi purpose services are an integrated health service with all services coming under the one management structure with the aim to provide seamless services for the clients in the catchment area. The inpatient facility has 22 beds providing sub acute, residential and respite care. The registered transition nurse has the opportunity to develop close working relationships with other health professionals - General Practitioners, Community Nurses and the community care team, Day Centre Activity Therapists, Physiotherapist, Social Worker, Community Health Programs Co-ordinator, Branch Ambulance Officer. Registered transition nurses have the opportunity to gain experience in all areas of the service.

Click here for further detail regarding these services.

Professional Development

Transition to Practice nurses are supported by a professional development program that is specifically designed in recognition of the unique requirements of beginning nurses and aims to assist them to understand and develop in their role and contribute to the health care team, particularly in the Primary and Mental Health settings. The program is integrated with the Launceston General Hospital and Child Health and Parenting Service providing registered transition to practice nurses choice of rotations between settings.

The program includes:

  • Initial orientation/ and nurse induction with allocated supernumerary days
  • Identification of individual objectives and development plan for achievement
  • Active participation in a performance development process with key support nurses
  • Maintenance of a skill acquisition record

  • Collation of a Professional Portfolio

  • Transition-specific in-service sessions

  • Minimum of six fully funded study days in a 12 month period

  • Reflective forums during each 6 month placement

  • Monthly video conference education sessions

  • Undertaking individual-specific education activities

Primary & Mental Health Services Orientation/ Nurse Induction

A two week orientation/ and nurse induction includes

  • Agency Induction (Half day)
  • Comprehensive nurse and site placement orientation /and induction during the first two weeks of placement
Site Orientation/ and nurse induction

Transition to Practice registered nurses are orientated and supported on commencement of placement by the preceptor and Nurse Unit Manager. This involves specific site relevant information; roles and responsibilities.  

Registered Nurse Transition to Practice Specific Calendar of Activities

A calendar of activities is provided to all transition to practice registered nurses with specific information on study days, video conference education and site visits by the Registered Nurse Transition to practice Co-ordinator during each six month placement.

Transition to Practice registered nurses are also requested to participate in site-based in-service sessions.

Registered Nurse Transition to Practice Specific Study Days

Six mandatory fully funded study days are planned for each nurse. The focus of the days is the presentation of information targeted to meet the nurse’s learning needs, using a problem-focused format.

Performance Development

Primary Health and Mental Health Services uses preceptorship as the primary framework for supporting nurses new to the practice setting. Each registered transition nurse is assigned a preceptor with initial mirrored rostering to assist with preceptor support. The new registered transition nurse is also supported by other registered nurses and professionals within the health care team.  

Development Planning, Review & Feedback

With the support of the preceptor, Nurse Unit Manager and the Registered Nurse Transition Coordinator the registered transition nurse undertakes performance planning and review during the transition period.

Within the first six-months of practice the registered transition nurse is expected to complete a development plan and receive three clinical feedback reports.

The Development Plan includes, in discussion with preceptor and Nurse Unit Manager,

  • Identifying specific practice objectives.
  • Detailing strategies on how the objectives shall be achieved, and
  • Criteria for the assessment of achievement.
Clinical Feedback

The provision of timely clinical feedback is a valuable strategy to assist the registered transition nurse in their practice development.  This feedback record is a collaborative review of the nurse’s performance undertaken with the nurse preceptor, Nurse Unit Manager and  Registered Nurse Transition Coordinator. A meeting between the nurse and his/her peers is performed during the first, third and fifth month of placement.

Professional Portfolio

All nurses have a professional responsibility to maintain their competence to practice and to provide evidence of fulfilment of that responsibility. The evidence is most easily represented in a Professional Portfolio. The registered transition nurse maintains a Portfolio and the information is reviewed during the formal clinical feedback meetings. The Portfolio documentation reflects the continuing acquisition of skills, knowledge, attitudes, understanding and achievement. An electronic copy of the portfolio may be downloaded from the hospital/services intranet site.

Outcomes of Transition to Practice Placements

The registered transition nurse who successfully demonstrates satisfactory standard of practice as outlined by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council National Competency Standards for Registered Nurses and reflected in the completion of all registered transition to practice nurse activities will be awarded a certificate of achievement and a transcript will be generated.

At the completion of the contract period transition to practice nurses are encouraged to apply for ongoing employment within Primary and Mental Health Services.

Post Graduate Studies

Primary and Mental Health Services is supportive of nurses seeking to undertake postgraduate studies. Specifically designated clinical positions and study leave are available. A post graduate allowance is paid to eligible nurses who obtain a relevant post graduate qualification and work in an associated area.

The Tasmanian School of Nursing & Midwifery at the University of Tasmania offers a range of programs including:

  • Bachelor of Nursing (Honors)
  • Post Graduate certificates in:
    • Acute Care Nursing
    • Critical Care Nursing
    • Clinical Nursing and Teaching
    • Emergency Medicine Nursing
    • Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing
    • Paediatric Intensive Care Nursing
    • Paediatric Nursing
    • Palliative Care Nursing
  • Graduate Diplomas in:
    • Midwifery
    • Mental Health Nursing
    • Child and Family Health

Both the post graduate certificates and Diploma's contribute to a Masters in Nursing

    • Masters of Clinical Nursing/Clinical Midwifery

Further information may be obtained from the School of Nursing & Midwifery University of Tasmania Website.

Primary and Mental Health Services has assistance available to nurses undertaking studies from other Universities and Centres and details may be obtained through the relevant Nurse Unit Manager.

Why choose a Primary and Mental Health setting for your transition  year?

These personal insights from recent transition nurses may inspire you in making the choice for a community, rural, mental health, forensic mental health, alcohol and drug or palliative care placement.

Tammie Cornford (Tasmanian School of Nursing Graduate) First year transition placement at North East Soldiers Memorial Hospital, Scottsdale
"The welcome I got here was amazing. It felt like I was being inducted into a family and the people I work with have been fantastic."

"I thought I might feel isolated and I was a bit nervous about my first placement but I really love it."

"I've decided to do my full transition year at Scottsdale. You get to see everything (in a smaller rural hospital), and my experience is so different to that of my peers in some of the bigger hospitals. I have absolutely no regrets at all."

Heather Robb (Flinders University Graduate, South Australia, first transition placement at Milbrook Rise, Tyenna

" I had no concept of what to expect but I was really keen to do my transition placement in the mental health area, which I hadn't worked in before. I've found it so interesting and I'm in awe of my colleagues. They have so much knowledge and know their clients so well."

"I'll do my second six-month placement at the Queenstown District Hospital, and have decided to do my Graduate Diploma in mental health nursing following completion of my transition year .

Follow the links for more information about Community, Rural and Multi Purpose Services, Palliative Care, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Services and the Wilfred Lopes Centre.