Local mental health nurses win Mentoring Scholarship

Two local mental health nurses are confident the Far West Local Health District and its mental health consumers will ultimately benefit when they participate in a mentoring program in a much larger mental health facility.

Marissa Zaknich and Siju Devassy have won a scholarship under the Bob Fenwick Memorial Mentoring Grants Program to visit another mental health facility and learn from the experience.

Marissa will be undertaking a five-day placement at The Mater Hospital in Newcastle and Siju will be attending a mental health rehabilitation facility at Cumberland Hospital in Sydney.

Bob Fenwick was a mental health nurse who tragically died in a work-related incident in 2011. In recognition of Mr Fenwick’s long service to mental health nursing and the important role he played in mentoring less-experienced nurses, the Bob Fenwick Memorial Mentoring Grants Program was developed in 2011.

This program aims to encourage experienced mental health nurses or clinicians to mentor their less experienced colleagues for the betterment of mental health service provision in NSW. Program funding is provided by the NSW Ministry of Health and administered by the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association.

The two local nurses will work with a Mentor in the respective facility for five consecutive days. The Mentor will be matched with each nurse so they can pursue employment and career goals.

Marissa said she was excited about winning the scholarship.

“It was a nice surprise. The FWLHD is very fortunate and privileged to have two staff members participate this year.”

Marissa said she hoped the knowledge and experience she will pick up from her mentor will help her in the day-to-day management of the Mental Health Inpatient Unit in the Broken Hill Hospital. “I am sure there will be many things that I will learn and can build upon to promote better outcomes for our consumers.”

Gaining an insight into a larger operation will be invaluable, said Marissa. The Mater Hospital in Newcastle encompasses 100 mental health beds ranging from Acute, Sub Acute, Rehabilitation, Peri Mental Health and Child and Adolescent Mental Health. There are over 1000 consumers managed by their Mental Health Community Team.

“This experience should ultimately assist the MHIPU Team to promote improved service provision to our consumers and their family carer representatives. It will hopefully also encourage other MHIPU Team Members to apply for the Bob Fenwick Scholarship program in the future.”

Siju said he was also excited about taking part in the mentoring program and hoped to improve his assessment, documentation and communication skills. “I also hope to gain more confidence along with practical and theoretical knowledge in mental health nursing by being exposed to a different and bigger facility.”

“I believe this is a part of my professional development that improves patient care and improving my knowledge also enlightens the skills of my colleagues.”

Broken Hill Health Service Acting Director of Nursing, Teresa Robinson, congratulated both Marissa and Siju on winning the scholarship.

“These experiences can only strengthen our workforce knowledge and skills and deepen the commitment our staff has in assisting our Broken Hill Hospital mental health consumers,” she said.


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