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Nursing program funding freeze not an obstacle to be recognized worldwide but an obstacle in addressing the shortage of nurses in Australia

Careers and University, Nursing

The implemented two-year funding freeze for Commonwealth-supported university nursing programs did not stop some Australian institutions offering nursing programs that have been ranked among the best in the world.

Just recently, nine Australian institutions with nursing programs made the cut to the Top 50 universities in the QS World University Rankings 2018. The University of Technology Sydney distinctly ranked 7th place worldwide which makes it the leading university among the nine from Australia.

Australian College of Nursing (ACN) Chief Executive Officer, Adjunct Professor Kylie acknowledged the worldwide recognition however, she also emphasized the need for sufficient nursing education funding.

She said, “Australian universities are globally recognised for their courses in teaching nursing. Our newly qualified nurses are graduating with the best standards, yet the government denies adequate healthcare education funding.”

“Access to quality clinical placements continues to be a challenge for education providers across the country. Clinical placements are compulsory for the completion of a nursing course and if funding is not allotted for hospitals and health centres to provide for these placements then it will be impossible for students to deliver the patient care they have studied for,

“Nursing is the largest single health profession in Australia and nurses are integral to all patient care with specialties ranging from aged care, through to surgical, paediatrics, mental health, education, chronic disease, palliative care, research, to health promotion and everything in between.

“Investing in and supporting nurses in all settings and at all stages of their career ensures Australia has a sustainable nursing workforce,” said Adjunct Professor Ward.

Assistant Federal Secretary of the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Annie Butler said:

“Quality undergraduate nursing education is essential and we do this really well in Australia. There are 34 universities, many with multiple campuses, offering the Bachelor of Nursing across the country. Clinical placement is a critical component of the nursing program. We know universities are struggling to provide quality clinical placement for the current volume of undergraduate nursing students. Placements are in high demand and come at a hefty cost to education providers.

“However, undergraduate education is only one part of the workforce pipeline. Securing employment opportunities for newly graduating nurses and midwives remains a top priority for the ANMF, and indeed the professions. It is crucial that we get nurse staffing and skills mix right. We not only need to have adequate numbers of nurses to provide care but we need the right skill mix of experienced nurses to support newly graduating nurses to transition to practice. We know that the situation will only worsen unless people in the position to make real change find solutions to improve employment opportunities for graduates.

“Mandated staffing ratios ensure we have enough nurses with the right mix of skill and experience to provide the care needed. This is essential in all areas of the health sector but none more than aged care. Over the last 13 years, chronic understaffing has seen a 400% increase in preventable deaths of elderly Australians in aged care with hundreds dying from falls, choking and suicide. Plenty of jobs here for both experienced nurses and those nurses newly graduating. There are no ratios for aged care and no laws to ensure our elderly get the care they need.

“It’s a crisis that shames us. We need ratios for aged care. We need to make them law now.”

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