Graduate Nurse Program

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Peter Mac) Graduate Nurse 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

The program is structured to encourage reflective practice and to help new nurses begin to identify the many possibilities available in their nursing career.

There will be more than 30 graduate nurse positions available in 2020, with intakes in January and March.

The program includes two six-month rotations or allocation to one ward or unit for 12 months in one of the following wards or units:

Ward 3A

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

  • bone and soft tissue,
  • lung, skin,
  • head and neck, 
  • brain,
  • gastrointestinal,
  • urological 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, Palliative care. The ward incorporates the 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.

Ward 5A

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, Surgery, Antibody therapies, Autologous stem cell transplantation.

Ward 6A

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, 
  • melanoma and
  • sarcoma.

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

Cancer Imaging

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.

Operating Suite

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, 
  • 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. Allocation includes: Scrub/scout (12 months) or Anaesthetics (6 months)/Post Anaesthetic Care Unit (PACU)(6 months).

Day Therapy Services

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 38 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

The unit is open Monday to Friday 0800 - 1900 hrs (some areas with shorter operating hours) and operates on most public holidays with a reduced number of chairs open.  Treatments include chemotherapy, immunotherapy and supportive medications.

Medical Day Unit (MDU)

The Medical Service has 15 chairs and is open 0800-1900 hrs, including an isolation room for the containment of infectious diseases.  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. 


The Apheresis Service has 6 chairs (with room to expand) and is open 0800-1800 hrs with a 24 hour on-call service. 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 has 8 chairs and 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)

The Clinical Trials unit has 6 chairs (with room to expand) and includes overnight beds (coordinated by Ward 3A) for patients that require 24/7 monitoring and observation. This unit will provide coordinated care to patients undergoing a Phase 1 or high risk clinical trial.

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

The Graduate Nurse Program

The Graduate Nurse Program includes the following short courses:

(Graduate Nurses will complete three of the short courses below)

  • Introduction to cancer
  • Assessment and management of the acutely ill patient in the oncology setting
  • Chemotherapy
  • Epidural and intrathecal management
  • Cancer care emergencies
  • Surgical Management
  • IV cannulation/CVAD management
  • Chemotherapy module one

In addition, graduate nurses attend:

  • Peer group meetings
  • Clinical supervision sessions

And complete:  

  • Competency assessments
  • A variety of learning packages
  • Performance development reviews

Eligibility and application process

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 computer matching service.

Graduate Nurse Program positions will be offered at 0.8 EFT, (Operating Suite 1.0 EFT) and applicants will need to provide the following:

  • Letter of application with a passport sized photo
  • Curriculum Vitae including a list of clinical placements and the names and contact details of two referees   (one of whom must be a clinical educator)
  • Academic transcript with key (certified)
  • Certified copies of two recent clinical appraisal tools (minimum of one acute placement)

Applications must be submitted using Peter Mac’s e-recruit system, and addressed to Ms. Michelle Rutherford, Graduate Nurse Program Coordinator.

All applicants successful for interview will be required to attend an interview in August.

Interview process

If your application is successful, you will be required to attend an interview. The interview will be conducted by a two-person interview panel and will take approximately 20 minutes.

You should arrive at your interview 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time to complete a preference allocation form and to review the interview questions, which will be provided to you on arrival.

During the interview, you will be asked to complete a simple calculation test, which will take approximately 10 minutes.

A member of the Graduate Support Team will be available at your interview to answer questions about the program or specific questions related to Peter Mac clinical areas.

Successful applicants will be notified via the Postgraduate Medical Council of Victoria’s (PMCV) computer matching service website.

Graduate Nurse Program information evening

5:30pm to 8:00pm, Tuesday 4 June 2019
Lecture Theatre B, Level 7
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
305 Grattan Street, Melbourne

Contact information

For enquiries regarding the Graduate Nurse Program, contact:

Michelle Rutherford
Graduate Nurse Program Coordinator
Phone: (03) 8559 7597
Email: [email protected]