A key expectation from the health care industry in Australia is that nurses engaged in postgraduate specialist education need to be able to apply their extended knowledge and skills to the workplace. For this to succeed, health services need to be involved in the development of course content and learning outcomes to ensure authentic engagement. Essential to this is student participation in workplace learning that provides experience, performance feedback and reflection. This promotes graduate success to meet industry expectations.

The Graduate Diploma of Perioperative Nursing aims to develop graduates with not only the knowledge of good perioperative nursing practice but also the skills. To achieve this, the course is provided in collaboration with both public and private health care sites within Western Australia (n=12). The 12-month, clinically intensive course provides a combination of academic learning and assessment in conjunction with clinical rotations amounting to a minimum of 1,150 hours.

A variety of evaluations have demonstrated the positive impact of the course. These include the university teaching and unit content evaluations; the Course Experience Questionnaire (CEQ), administered by Graduate Careers Australia; and the independent School of Nursing and Midwifery Course Review. These evaluations indicate that the perioperative course is well received by health services, educators and students. Further research to confirm these results is required to validate the impact of the course on nursing performance, retention and the value of work integrated learning within postgraduate nursing education.

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