Graduate Nurse Program

We designed our Graduate Nurse Program to assist newly graduated registered nurses to transition into an acute care setting, over a 12-month period. The program provides opportunities for graduate nurses to consolidate and expand their clinical ability, judgement and confidence while working as valued members of the organisation.

Graduate Nurse Program 2018 info evening event

Highlights of the program  

We recognise:  

  • The transition from student to graduate nurse has had additional challenges due to the pandemic. In response to these challenges, targeted education has been developed, with the focus on fundamental nursing skills and knowledge  

  • A successful first year in a nurse’s career is integral to their ongoing professional longevity, as consequences each graduate is provided with opportunities to make the most of their nursing career from the very beginning 

We have a well-developed Professional Practice model that provides our nursing workforce with clear pathways that inform, support and guide nurses to progress their career, from novice to expert cancer nurse  

  • Our graduate nurse can consolidate fundamental nursing skills, acquire specialised cancer nursing skills and benefit from a tailored clinical support and education program  

  • We are a very acute hospital (not sub-acute) and provide opportunities to work in inpatient and/or outpatient settings. There is also an opportunity for graduate nurses to work within our theatre department  

Our Graduate Nurse Program is structured to encourage reflective practice and help new nurses identify the many possibilities available in their nursing career. 

There will be more than 30 graduate nurse positions available in 2024, with intakes in February and March. 

Where we allocate graduate nurses 

The program may include two six-month rotations or an allocation to one ward or unit for its duration. Please see areas where we allocate graduate nurses:  

32 bed ward with a clinical (medical) focus on people who have been diagnosed with cancers involving:

  • bone and soft tissue
  • lung
  • skin, and melanoma
  • head and neck
  • neurological
  • gastrointestinal
  • genito –urinary and
  • gynaecological systems

The ward may also manage paediatric patients. Treatment modalities provided to patients on Ward 3A include: chemotherapy, external beam radiotherapy, nuclear medicine treatments and palliative care. The ward incorporates a 4 bed 'first in human' Clinical Trials Unit. 

The ward staff work in collaboration with [email protected] Peter Mac Victorian Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Service.  This service consists of a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals who work alongside cancer specialists at Peter Mac to ensure all aspects of a young person's health and wellbeing are given attention both during treatment and in the years beyond.

32 bed ward with a focus on people diagnosed with haematological and breast cancers. Haematological malignancies include:

  • myeloma
  • lymphoma and
  • myeloproliferative neoplasms

Treatment modalities provided to patients on Ward 5A include: chemotherapy, radiotherapy, antibody therapies, autologous stem cell transplantation.

32 bed ward with a clinical focus on people requiring surgery as part of their cancer treatment.  This includes people who have been diagnosed with the following cancers:

  • gastrointestinal
  • hepatobiliary
  • urological
  • prostate
  • gynaecological
  • breast
  • head and neck
  • melanoma and
  • sarcoma

Ward 6A staff care for patients both pre-operatively and post-operatively and manages patients with surgical complications.

The Cancer Imaging Department provides a comprehensive range of general and specialist diagnostic, interventional and therapeutic services including:

  • general x-ray
  • diagnostic mammography
  • ultrasound
  • multi-slice helical computerised tomography (CT)
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • positron emission tomography (PET)
  • PET/CT co-registration
  • diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear medicine
  • selected interventional radiology procedures
  • bone marrow biopsies

Patient management activities include: Central venous access device (CVAD) insertion and removal, barium and contrast studies, percutaneous nephrostomy and biliary drainage, percutaneous gastrostomy (PEG) tube insertion, inferior vena cava (IVC) filter insertion, general fluoroscopic procedures, insertion of hook needle wires for cancer localisations.

A comprehensive service for patients undergoing complex cancer surgery including;

  • six theatres,
  • two procedure rooms including dedicated endoscopy unit
  • day of surgery admission
  • anaesthetics, intra-operative and post-anaesthetic care 
  • extended Recovery Unit for high acuity patients

Major surgical focus includes: colorectal, upper gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, breast, urology,  melanoma, skin, plastic reconstructive, head and neck surgery, sarcoma/vascular, robotic surgery for a number of specialities, high dose radiation (brachytherapy) for gynaecological and prostate cancers, intraoperative radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Allocation to the operating suite within the Graduate Nurse Program is 12 months only and graduate nurses will have the opportunity to experience all of the following areas: Scrub/Scout, Anaesthetics, Post Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU) and Day Surgery throughout the program.

Day Therapy is an integration of the Same Day Services from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Women’s Hospital.  The service comprises of five areas:

  • chemotherapy
  • medical
  • transfusion
  • apheresis
  • clinical trials

The Chemotherapy Service is a 48 chair service (with room to expand) to provide care for all tumour streams including:

  • bone and soft tissues
  • brain and spine
  • breast
  • colorectal
  • gynae-oncology
  • haematology
  • lung
  • skin and Melanoma
  • upper gastrointestinal
  • uro-oncology

 Treatments include chemotherapy, immunotherapy and supportive medications.

Medical Day Unit (MDU)

This unit provides symptom control and management for patients receiving treatment and cares for unplanned and unwell oncology patients that have presented to the hospital via outpatient clinics or the Royal Melbourne and Royal Women's Hospitals.  There will be some planned activity within this unit including the administration of non- cytotoxic infusions, and the care of patients post a bone marrow transplant. 


Apheresis specialises in the use of cell separator machines designed to centrifuge blood into different components based on the specific gravity of cellular content. Although apheresis is predominantly haematology focused (both malignant and non-malignant), there are a large number of solid tumour streams, neurology and renal patients who are treated here, in addition to a significant blood-product-donor population. The most common procedures performed by the apheresis area of Peter Mac include:

  • stem cell (HPC-A) Harvesting (both for autologous and allogeneic purposes)
  • red cell exchange (RBCx) or Reduction
  • plasma exchange (TPE)
  • extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP)
  • white blood cell reduction
  • granulocyte harvesting.

Transfusion Lounge

The Transfusion unit specialises in the co-ordination and provision of all outpatient blood products to Peter Mac patients. The transfusion unit also provides regular administration of blood products for chronic disorders such as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and disease related or treatment-induced hypogammaglobulinaemia. Common blood products administered within the transfusion lounge includes:

  • packed red blood cell (PRBCS),
  • platelets
  • plasma products including albumin, cryoprecipitate or fresh frozen plasma
  • intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG)

Clinical Trials Unit (CTU)

This unit will provide coordinated care to patients undergoing a Phase 1 or high risk clinical trials.

Allocation to Day Therapy, within the Graduate Nurse Program is 12 months only. Medical/Transfusion (6 months) and Chemotherapy (6 months)

The Short Stay Unit (SSU)  is a dynamic 6 bed unit providing acute post - operative and multi-stream oncology care. The unit comprises of 4 overnight post op beds and 2 cardiac monitored beds.

SSU staff provide post-operative care for patients with an anticipated one to two night hospital stay. These post-operative procedures include: 

  • Robotic prostatectomy
  • Plastics reconstructive 
  • Transurethral resections
  • Mastectomy and axillary dissections
  • High dose brachytherapy
  • Post PEG

With further training, SSU staff have the opportunity to care for patients who require continuous cardiac monitoring from a vast range of treatment modalities including; haematology, medical oncology, surgical oncology, usually as a consequence of their disease state or treatment regime.

The Palliative Care Unit is a 12 bed unit. Staff provide care to patients with life limiting illness, malignant and non-malignant and progressive disease (this may be cancer or a non-cancer diagnosis) that is being managed will a palliative care approach. Reasons for patient admissions include: 

  • Terminal and end of life care 
  • Symptom management e.g. pain, dyspnoea, agitation, delirium, psychological symptoms
  • Functional decline and difficulty managing at home 
  • Care giver stress and burden 

The Radiotherapy Department is a Monday to Friday service providing care for inpatients and outpatients requiring radiotherapy treatment for a range of cancer diagnoses.  

Radiotherapy treatment includes:

  • External Beam radiation therapy
  • Steriotactic ablative body radiation therapy (SABR)
  • Gamma Knife
  • Brachytherapy  

Radiotherapy nursing staff work within a multidisciplinary team including radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, medical physicists, physiotherapists, dietitians, pharmacists, and speech pathologists.

Nurses working in the radiotherapy department provide a high level of physical and psychological support before, during, and after the treatment process, including conducting patient health assessments, responding to acute deterioration, providing education and managing patient symptoms associated with treatment.

Treating 150 to 180 patients per day, the Radiotherapy department is a dynamic and high-paced clinical environment that enables holistic care to be provided to patients from every tumour stream.   

To participate in Peter Mac’s Graduate Nurse Program, list the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre as your hospital preference for a Victorian Graduate Nurse Program via the Postgraduate Medical Council of Victoria’s Allocation and Placement Service.

Graduate Nurse Program positions will be offered at full time or 8 days per fortnight (Operating Suite full time) and applicants will need to provide the following:

  • Letter of application with a passport sized photo
  • Curriculum Vitae including a list of clinical placements 
  • Academic transcript with key 
  • Two recent clinical appraisal tools (minimum of one acute placement)
  • You will need to provide your referee details to the Allocation and Placement Service.

Applications must be submitted via Peter Mac’s Careers site, and addressed to Ms. Michelle Rutherford, Graduate Nurse Program Coordinator. Applications will open Monday, 5 June 2023.

Interviews will be conducted in August 2023

If your application is successful, you will be invited to partake in an interview. An online video platform may be used. 

Successful applicants will be notified via the Postgraduate Medical Council of Victoria’s (PMCV) Allocation and Management service website in October 2023.