With exception of a few countries, the pattern of nursing education accepted today is generally similar throughout the world. In Australia and in particular Western Australia the minimum educational requirement is year 12 and then potential nurses have to do a Batchelor of Nursing degree at University. If one doesn’t have the minimum educational prerequisite there are other avenues one can use to get into University and study nursing.
The course includes both theoretical learning and supervised practical training in the care of patients.
The length of the course for nurses in Australia is around four years and of course the tuition isn’t free. Albeit nursing is open to both genders in Australia nursing is still dominated by females.
The four year course entails general and professional education including hospital practice. As in most countries and Australia nurses have to be registered with the Nurses Board.
Although the number of nurses are steadily increasing there are not enough today to meet the need.
The purpose of regulating nurses is for the protection of both the public and the nurse.
All of the approved Universities in Australia who offer a Batchelor of Nursing Degree offer a preparation that is consistent with modern nursing and educational principles.
Today nurses can choose to specialise in a particular field that interests them, and indeed nursing tutors at Universities are in great demand.
And of course when a nurse has completed their qualification they can be employed in government and private hospitals, nursing homes, blood banks, and there are opportunities for nurses in the three arms of the military being the Australian Army, Navy and Airforce and all nurses hold a commissioned rank.
The latest data from the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia shows there are currently 365,990 nurses practising in Australia.
Apart from nursing what do nurses do?
They actually provide a crucial role in providing modern healthcare and albeit the health industry endeavours to achieve its goal of providing healthcare the Australian population continues to expand rapidly to the point whereby Australia is predicted to have a massive shortage of nurses by 2025
Out of the 365,990 plus nurses and midwives currently working in Australia, NSW has the largest number with 99,867 closely followed by Victoria which has 96,562, whilst Western Australia has around 30,000 registered nurses and midwives.
Main article: Nursing in Australia
Catholic religious institutes were influential in the development of Australian nursing, founding many of Australia’s hospitals – the Irish Sisters of Charity were first to arrive in 1838 and established St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney in 1857 as a free hospital for the poor. They and other orders like the Sisters of Mercy, and in aged care the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary and Little Sisters of the Poor founded hospitals, hospices, research institutes and aged care facilities around Australia.
A census in the 1800s found several hundred nurses working in Western Australia during the colonial period of history; this included Aboriginal female servants who cared for the infirm.
The state nursing licensing bodies amalgamated in Australia in 2011 under the federal body AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Registration Authority). Several divisions of nursing license is available and recognized around the country.
- Enrolled nurses may initiate some oral medication orders with a specific competency now included in national curricula but variable in application by agency.
- Registered nurses hold a university degree (enrolled nurses can progress to registered nurse status and do get credit for previous study)
- Nurse practitioners have started emerging from postgraduate programs and work in private practice.
- Mental health nurses must complete further training as advanced mental health practitioners in order to administer client referrals under the Mental Health Act.
Australia enjoys the luxury of a national curriculum for vocational nurses, trained at TAFE colleges or private RTO. Enrolled and registered nurses are identified by the department of immigration as an occupational area of need, although registered nurses are always in shorter supply, and this increases in proportion with specialization.
In 1986 there were a number of rolling industrial actions around the country, culminating when five thousand Victorian nurses went on strike for eighteen days. The hospitals were able to function by hiring casual staff from each other’s striking members, but the increased cost forced a decision in the nurses’ favour
Fears NHS could be ‘tipped over edge’ with 9 out 10 hospitals short of nurses
Nine in 10 hospitals have declared a shortage of nurses, while staff say they have been left fighting back tears amid mounting pressures
Nurses say they have been left on the brink of tears, as pressures mount Photo: GETTY IMAGES
By Laura Donnelly, Health Editor
10:00PM GMT 20 Dec 2015
Nine out of 10 hospitals in England are reporting dangerous shortages of nurses, according to official figures which have fuelled fears of an NHS winter crisis.
Senior nurses said they were worried services could be “tipped over the edge” by mounting winter pressures, with just one nurse for 22 patients in some hospitals.
Staff said they were left fighting back tears because they were unable to provide safe levels of care – let alone provide comfort to patients.
The monthly reports filed by NHS hospitals show that 207 of the 225 acute hospitals in England have been unable to find enough nurses to staff their wards – a significant decline on performance last winter.
“It doesn’t take much to tip services over the edge, and the NHS could be very vulnerable to a bad winter and any extra pressures”
Janet Davies, the Royal College of Nursing
A survey of almost 1,000 nurses meanwhile reveals growing strain, with more than half saying there were rarely or never enough staff on their wards.
The vast majority of those polled by Nursing Times said pressures had grown in the last year, with three quarters saying they were forced to leave patients without the care which was needed.
One nurse described making herself “stop from crying” as her hospital admitted more and more patients, with no extra staff to care for them, while others described pressures as “relentless” and “exhausting”.
The growing shortages follow promises from Government to boost NHS staffing levels, after the Stafford Hospital scandal found elderly people left crying out for help, and being forced to soil themselves, while call bells have gone unanswered.
Last week, a five-year study found that hospitals with fewer nurses have significantly higher death rates.
The study by St George’s Hospital in London and Southampton University found that trusts with the lowest mortality rates for patients admitted for emergency surgery had 24 per cent more nurses than those with the highest death rates.
Janet Davies, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing said she was fearful that the NHS would struggle to cope as it faces the busiest period of the year.
The health service has already warned of record levels of “bed blocking” and increasing numbers facing long waits in Accident & Emergency departments.
“When a ward does not have enough nurses, it can be harder to meet the needs of patients, harder to recognise deterioration and harder to manage conditions in the long term,” the senior nurse said.
“It doesn’t take much to tip services over the edge, and the NHS could be very vulnerable to a bad winter and any extra pressures.”
Inspectors who visited Mid Yorkshire NHS trust this summer – later branding services unsafe – found just one nurse looking after 22 patients.
The national figures on NHS staffing show that the vast majority of NHS acute hospitals have been unable to find enough nurses to cover the shifts planned.
Shortages of nurses have become widespread, the figures show Photo: Alamy
Ashford Hospital, run by Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals trust, in Surrey, achieved just 75 per cent, the analysis by Health Service Journal found.
Rowley Regis hospital and City Hospital, run by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust, managed 76 per cent and 77 per cent respectively, while Cannock Chase Hospital, run by the Royal Wolverhampton Trust also achieved just 77 per cent.
The data shows a steep decline in the number of trusts which have been able achieve the staffing levels they had planned.
The figures, which cover the month of August, show that last January, just 15 per cent of acute hospitals were able to meet their staffing targets by day. But by the height of summer this had dropped to just 8 per cent.
Shortages of nurses have already fuelled a rise in international recruitment, with the number coming here for work who trained abroad almost doubling in two years.
Trusts have also turned to agencies, paying out up to £2,200 a shift for a nurse to cover one 12 hour shift.
The spending has fuelled the worst ever financial crisis in the history of the NHS, with a £2.2bn deficit forecast by March.
Hospitals have now been issued with orders to cut the rates paid for agency staff.
Complaints about delays and cancelled appointments have risen by almost one fifth in a year Photo: PA
But spending watchdogs have raised fears that doing so could further exacerbate desperate shortages.
The Chancellor has ordered an expansion in nurse training places, in an attempt to find at least 10,000 more staff by 2020.
But the plans will see free training replaced with a system of loans, which mean nurses could face debts of up to £65,000, sparking fears that new recruits could be deterred.
Trusts have become heavily reliant on nurses from overseas.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said the shortages across the country were “very worrying”.
She said the charity was concerned that the scrapping of free nurse training could deepen the crisis.
“The Government must rethink its strategy, so that more nurses are encouraged into training and trusts can stop spending excessive amounts of money on agency staff,” she said.
Justin Madders, shadow health minister, said: “These figures illustrate the scale of the nurse staffing crisis now engulfing the NHS.
“The Government’s cuts to nurse training places have left hospital wards dangerously understaffed, forcing NHS bosses to waste huge amounts of money on expensive agency staff.”
Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals trust said its own analysis had rated staffing levels in some parts of its hospitals as amber and red, and that it could not give assurances that staffing was at safe levels across the organisation. It said it introduced new policies last month to ensure that shortages were tackled more quickly.
A spokesman for Royal Wolverhampton Trust said their own records suggested staffing levels for registered nurses were at least 95 per cent, and said he believed there were “data accuracy issues” with the national data returns.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Staffing is a priority — we’ve put more than 7,600 additional nurses on our wards since May 2010 and there are 50,000 nurses currently in training.”