Keeping the passion going: A lifeline thrown to a graduate nurse

Ms Erin Mercieca1

1The Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia


Nurses transitioning to practice have passion and great potential. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has put immense strain on nurses, potentially jeopardising this passion. Research shows that heavy workloads, stress, burnout and insufficient resources are driving a mass exodus of nurses out of the workforce. It is estimated that under current settings Australia could have a shortfall of 85,000 nurses by 2025, though with increased early career retention this initial shortfall could be drastically reduced. We need to act now to support our emerging nurses survive their new responsibilities through an ever-changing environment.

This presentation focuses on the lived experiences of a graduate nurse building her resilience as she transitioned to practice in Victoria during the heightened COVID-19 outbreaks with the support of her mentor. Infection control became a key aspect of her practice whilst acclimatising to her new nursing role. Education supports were withdrawn as resources were reallocated, and communication networks were closed causing isolation from loved ones and colleagues. The support of the mentor became a crucial outlet for stress release and encouragement during this time.

Studies have shown that millennials place mentoring and personal feedback higher than other generations, though many newly qualified nurses do not have an assigned mentor. Investing in mentorship programs to support the nursing profession is critical for all levels of nurses to consider, particularly during this time of uncertainty. Nurses need to develop resilience early in their career to ensure they are inspired to stay in the profession and reach their full potential.


Erin Mercieca is an early career nurse passionate about neonatal health and supporting new learners within the nursing profession. She completed her graduate year in 2020 at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne rotating through the special care nursery and gynaecology/oncology ward. Erin has been involved in the Emerging Nurse Leader program with the Australian College of Nursing since 2019. She is also the Communication Coordinator for the ACN Melbourne Region.