Nurturing nursing talent: Greenslopes private hospital and TAFE Queensland’s successful partnership

May 2023

Grow your own nursing pipeline

Over 15 years ago, Greenslopes Private Hospital in Brisbane articulated two key problems – a shortage of enrolled nurses, and the time spent teaching new graduates the ‘Greenslopes way.’

Working collaboratively with TAFE Queensland, a solution – “Grow Your Own Workforce” – was developed to train enrolled nurses in a Diploma of Nursing wholly on-site in the workplace.

The hospital took responsibility to create their own talent pipeline, with the training partnership resulting in over 900 students graduating as enrolled nurses, a completion rate of 83.7%, student satisfaction of 92.1% and employment on course completion of 98.2%.

It’s a competitive program to enter, as potential students understand the quality of learning they receive in a real hospital environment, and the easy transition into employment.

Investing in learners as future staff

Hospital staff know the investment they make in helping students learn is worth it, as they’re likely to be their colleagues at graduation.

“Staff engagement at Greenslopes is different to other hospitals as there's a return on their investment. They don’t have the churn of students coming on work placement, then never seeing them again.

Students know the policies and procedures of the hospital, they’re integrated into the team and understand how the hospital works. It's very smooth, from being a student to becoming a staff member. They've already been at the hospital 18 months. And there’s savings on the cost of marketing and recruitment!”

Learning on site helps students deal with the real world of the hospital.

“Their learning is much more advanced by being with us for all their placements. We see our students from the beginning through to being employed. It's rewarding for staff to see their development.

We have TAFE Queensland staff teaching onsite. Students undertake training using a mock ward set up with beds and mannequins and go into our hospital to fulfill practical requirements. There’s a high-fidelity simulation lab. They use the facilities, the equipment, everything that the nurses use.”

Enduring relationships

“Building strong, enduring, honest relationships is everything. If you work on that, anything can be resolved. And not just with key people. We continue to gather feedback, to ensure we’re talking to different levels of staff and everybody is on board. You need regular communication points. Some people aren’t going to say, ‘look, there's a problem’, unless you’re proactively checking in.

We have a dedicated customer team for the Greenslopes partnership. It was set up with agreed behaviours, agreed customer service provisions, regular meetings. So the hospital doesn’t need to talk to a variety of people.”

“We really love that we get to have input. We can say, ‘This is what we're noticing. How can we make some changes?’ That's why the relationship has strengthened over the years. Both sides have worked hard together, listening to each other's needs, and adapting the program. The partnership is a very successful workforce planning strategy for us.”

External industry accreditation bodies regularly provide positive feedback on the program and its transferability to other similar workplaces.

“We've taken the concept and used it elsewhere. Other hospitals see this and say ‘We want what they’ve got’. The model takes hospital training and tertiary training and combines the best of both.”

The success of this partnership offers lessons to others tackling the skills shortages of today.