KYLIE Cross had climbed nearly every rung of the clinical nursing ladder.
But she finally reached the top when she became St John of God Hospital’s first nurse practitioner in June.
This means Ms Cross can now assist surgeons directly during operations, particularly orthopaedics, urology and general surgery.
Ms Cross completed a perioperative nursing course at Geelong Hospital in 1997 and worked as a clinical nurse specialist in Ballarat from 2001, but still felt something was missing.
“I’d done all my challenges as a clinical nurse specialist,” she said. “I needed another challenge, so studied to become a surgical nurse assistant.”
Ms Cross, mentored by orthopaedic surgeon Paul Plank, completed her studies in 2009 before beginning her Master of Advanced Nursing Practice at the University of Melbourne, finishing her studies in 2012.
After a time-consuming process – and five years of study – she was endorsed as a nurse practitioner two months ago.
“It was my ultimate career goal. I wasn’t interested in management, I still wanted a clinical role. Now I get to see the patient before surgery, assist in theatre and see them again afterwards.”
St John of God Hospital nursing director Maria Noonan said Ms Cross had received the Sister Perpetua Downs Scholarship through the St John of God Post Graduate Foundation in 2007 which enabled her to begin her Graduate Diploma of Clinical Science (Perioperative Nurse Surgical Assistant) studies.
“We ... acknowledge Kylie’s hard work in achieving this qualification,” Ms Noonan said.