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Published on July 20, 2023

As Healthcare Worker Shortages Rise, What Incentives are There for New Nurses?

Australia is in the trenches of a healthcare worker shortage, and unions say that things are not going to improve any time soon.

Nurses are currently the #1 most in-demand profession in Australia, and this will only get worse as the Baby Boomer generation ages into retirement, as they hold a significant percentage of nursing jobs. When a pandemic hit and nurses went from essential to crucial, nurses all over the country found themselves overworked and burnt out.

The practice nurse career path also offers a rewarding and fulfilling journey for healthcare professionals who are passionate about patient care and continuous learning. As a starting point, aspiring practice nurses typically obtain a nursing degree or diploma and pass the necessary licensure exams to become a registered nurse (RN).

What is causing a shortage of nurses?

In addition to possessing a high level of qualifications, nurses are expected to have a myriad of skills that cannot necessarily be taught- empathy, problem-solving, communication, generosity, and more. They already have a lot on their plate, but with an overall healthcare shortage on the rise, they’re being asked to do more than ever.

It’s no wonder that nurses are experiencing burnout and fatigue. And yet many still love many things about their career. Nursing is a career full of positives– patient interaction, the sense of community, the satisfaction of making someone’s day better, the busy environment, and more. This may be why many who previously moved on from their nursing careers have fallen in love with nursing again and reentered the field after some time away. 

Nursing is a job with many positive aspects, and this is why more and more people are taking a registered nurse course and joining the community of nurses. Unfortunately, statistics say there still aren’t enough. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that nurses are truly important people who should be valued.

Incentives for New Nurses

Nurses who are based in countries that have equivalent nursing qualifications to Australia are being flown in and dispatched to Australian hospitals where their services are greatly needed. This is a great way to increase the number of nurses in Australia- but how are we planning to incentivise more Australians to follow the path of a career in nursing?

The Victorian government has proposed a $270 million plan to fund the education of over ten thousand nursing and midwifery students in exchange for at least two years working in the public healthcare system. Professor Philip Della, Western Australia’s chief nursing officer, believes that this plan would “go a long way” in solving the nursing shortage. 

Daniel Andrews stated, “If you’re in Year 12 and you’ve been thinking about studying nursing or midwifery – go for it. We’ve got your HECS fees covered.” A similar project executed in WA saw an increase in prospective nurses, so implementing this in all states may be the next step in repairing our country’s nursing shortage.

A Sydney hospital also tried to incentivise nurses when it offered cash to nurses who cancelled their annual leave. While small incentives like this may help in some small way, they do nothing to address the bigger problem- the fact that many nurses feel overworked, burnt out and underappreciated. The fact is that hospitals are understaffed, and since there aren’t enough nurses to go around, the current nurses are being stretched too thin trying to make up for the lack of staff. The solution is more nurses, and incentives like covering the education fees of soon-to-be nurses will help exponentially.

Luckily, the number of registered nurses in Australia increases each year, even during the global pandemic. If these numbers continue to rise we may be able to combat this severe shortage. More healthcare workers means less stress on current healthcare workers, improving morale and overall workplace happiness.

How you can Become a Nurse

If you’re caring, compassionate, work well under pressure, and like the thought of having no HECS debt, you might be the right person to fill a position that really needs to be filled.

There isn’t just one type of nursing degree. It’s up to you to choose the one that’s right for you and your career goals. Then you’ll take the NCLEX-RN to make sure your educational experience taught you all you need to know about the nursing field. Then you’ll be able to take a sigh of relief and put your well-earned skills to use in a hospital or other healthcare space where you’ll help those who need it most.

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