Recruiting, retaining and supporting General Practitioners (GPs), Nurses and Allied Health Professionals in rural New South Wales, Australia

Orientation for new recruits

How can RDN assist you?

RDN works with you to case manage every successful applicant who's recruited through us. We assist all applicants with any questions and concerns about making the move to settle in a new community.

Your involvement as the employer is critical and we work with you to ensure that the transition process is as smooth as possible for everyone.

It is useful to approach it from the point of view that you are recruiting the whole family and if the whole family is not happy, then they are unlikely to stay in the town.

Tools to help

RDN has a range of material that can assist you and the applicant:

The LGAs often have great web sites with heaps of useful and practical information for those moving in to the locality and cover everything from investment opportunities to clubs and recreational activities to when the bin will be picked up. Many of them have a new residents’ guide. Check your local LGA and tourist information centre to see what you can provide from your community.

What can you do personally?

Can you organise a welcome dinner or barbeque with other health professionals and professionals in the town? At the very least, ensure that the new person is introduced to all relevant people with whom they are likely to have professional contact. This could also be done by working in conjunction with the council and/or other community groups.

Perhaps you could link them up with a ‘buddy’ in town – someone who is personable and approachable and would enjoy helping a newcomer to town settle in. It might be someone in the workplace or external to your organisation. (It’s best if the ‘buddy’ is separate to you as the manager). Perhaps you could consider someone who has recently successfully relocated to the town? Or someone with children of a similar age?

Of key concern to new people will be:

  • Finding accommodation (do you know someone who has property to rent or can the LGA assist with premises?).
  • Finding employment for the spouse – this is a ‘make or break’ factor. Can you use your own contacts to help out? Where might they look for work? Which is job ads day in the local newspaper?
  • Schooling and child care (if the child care issue isn’t resolved, the person won’t be able to start work!)

You might not know all these answers and solutions yourself, but someone else within the community may be able to help. Work your contacts – the viability of health services in your town is everyone’s concern and everyone in the community can make a difference.

International applicants

The supply of trained nurses and allied health professionals is not yet sufficient for all of Australia’s growing healthcare requirements and rural Australia in particular will continue to rely on international graduates for some time.

The process of getting them registered and an appropriate visa in place will take some time – even up to 12 months. Be prepared for this time frame and keep in touch with your applicant during this time – this is a worrying and uncertain time for a lot of applicants – even a friendly brief email every month or so can mean a lot to an anxious family on the other side of the world.

While it is daunting for Australians to move from a big city or interstate to a rural area, spare a thought for someone moving country and the challenge it presents. Make your international recruits feel welcomed and extend the community’s gratitude for choosing your community.

They will have many more challenges to overcome and things to arrange when they arrive and they will be grateful for any community assistance that is offered.

Professional orientation

Finally, remember that you still need to make your new recruit feel comfortable in the workplace. On their first day, show them around the workplace and perhaps have a welcoming morning tea and make sure they are introduced to everyone. A structured orientation program is useful to ensure you have covered all bases.

It makes a great first impression if their computer, email address and log-ins for systems are already established and working and their desk or workstation is already kitted out with basic stationery.

Make sure all forms are sorted out, such as pay forms, Tax File Declaration, bank account and superannuation. It makes for a very poor first impression if the first pay is late especially when they are likely to have already incurred considerable costs in relocating.

Introduce the rostering system you use and what the timesheet procedure is. Uniforms are another consideration – does the person need to be fitted for uniforms or has this been arranged in advance?

Familiarise them with WH&S procedures, where the first aid kit is, fire safety drills and any other mandatory processes and/or training. Also make sure that they are clear about any jurisdictional issues and the roles of other colleagues.

Consider establishing a professional buddy either from the local town or maybe from the Local Health District. When you make such an effort, covering both the social and professional point of view, it creates an environment where the new worker feels wanted and welcomed and you are both off to a great start!