Local woman lands dream nursing job after graduate program

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Nurse Emma-Lee Smith completed the TCHHS graduate program after spending a year working on Thursday Island.

A Cape York woman has realised her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse after completing a Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service (TCHHS) graduate program.

Emma-Lee Smith is a First Nations woman from Bloomfield, south of Cooktown, and completed the 12-month program earlier this month.

She has now landed a fulltime position as a rural generalist nurse at Cooktown Multipurpose Health Service, starting work next month.

“I’ve wanted to be a nurse for pretty much as long as I can remember,” Ms Smith said.

“I’m so excited to be returning closer to my home community and family who I know are really proud of me.”

Ms Smith attended primary school at Bloomfield and nearby Rossville State Schools, before moving to Cairns for high school where she was a boarding student at St Monica’s College.

She completed a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree through James Cook University and worked as an Assistant in Nursing and Student in Nursing at Townsville Hospital before being accepted into the TCHHS Registered Graduate Nurse program.

During the program she was based on Thursday Island, spending six months in the renal ward and six months in the general ward.

She said the program had “opened up a lot of doors” for getting into rural and remote nursing.

“Just growing up in a rural and remote area and seeing how deadly the nurses were really inspired me to pursue this career,” she said.

“The graduate program really exposed me to all the different types of cases that come through the door every day, which wouldn’t happen working in a single ward at a larger city hospital.”

TCHHS Acting Executive Director Nursing and Midwifery Sarah Worth said the health service had graduate program intakes every six months with the next cohort due to commence work in September.

She said the health service was committed to growing its First Nations workforce through various avenues including the graduate program which allowed new graduates a direct pathway to rural and remote work.

“Emma performed exceptionally well in the program and we were thrilled to be able to offer her a position so close to her home community who are no doubt very proud of her achievements,” she said.

“We encourage any nursing students interested in rural and remote work to consider applying for the graduate program.”

Learn more about our graduate program.