Calls for 40,000 retired nurses, doctors, midwives, and other health professionals to come of retirement to help with the COVID-19 medical response highlights the importance of Australia’s health professionals and their training.
“This crisis reminds us that nurses and midwives make up about half of the global health workforce and together are an essential component of strong, resilient, health systems and health care delivery,” says Flinders University Professor Robyn Aitken.
“The latest callout for trainee and now retired nurses to help on the front line of the COVID-19 emergency response further highlights the vital importance of a sustainable nursing and midwifery workforce, and the role universities play in ensuring a continuous pipeline of new graduates.
“The potential contribution of nursing and midwifery students to ‘surge capacity’ plans is also important at this critical point,” she says.
Relaxation of visa restrictions for international student nurses so they can work more than the 40-hours a fortnight work entitlement in Assistant in Nursing (AIN) roles is one-way students are contributing.
“A partnership with SA Pathology at their drive-through testing stations is another significant initiative that gives final-year nursing students both employment and a placement – discretely separated so that there is no role confusion,” says Professor Aitken.
“This is a great example of health services increasing opportunities for student placements in a way to accelerate the successful entry of graduates into the workforce.”