Lynne Mowbray | Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis met with some of the 13 new graduate nurses on Friday, at Grafton Base Hospital. Mr Gulaptis said that he knows firsthand the value of nurses within our community. “Having had my own health scare last year, I know that nurses are the backbone of our excellent NSW health system,” Mr Gulaptis said. Director of Nursing and Midwifery for Grafton and Maclean hospitals Sharon Wright said that they are celebrating the commencement of the 13 new graduates who are starting their ‘transition to professional practice’ at Grafton Base Hospital. “Some of the graduates started on 29 January and another four will commence in April,” Ms Wright said. “It’s exciting for us to have brand new staff and it’s great for our succession planning; as older nurses age and leave the workforce we’ve got brand new nurses coming in to learn the ropes and to develop their careers in the profession and to take their place. “We provide all of the support for our new graduates and they are in that program for a 12 month period and they are supported by the clinical nurse educators and the other nursing staff on the wards. “They start off small and by the end of the year they’re usually flying,” she said. New graduate Chad Barber started on 29 January and said that he is enjoying his new job. “During the first six months I will be working in day surgery and recovery at Grafton and then spend six months at Maclean Hospital,” Mr Barber said. “It’s been really good and we have been very well supported by our educators. “Clinical Nurse Educator Christian Brown has been very supportive and helpful. “I’ve worked for 16 years in Grafton and Maclean as an enrolled nurse but now I’ve done my degree over four years externally, on-line through Charles Darwin. This has enabled me to continue with adult life, around raising children etc. “Northern NSW Local Health District has been very supportive, enabling me to take leave to support my study,” he said.