The ever-shifting role of nursing in modern medical practices

The ever-shifting role of nursing in modern medical practices

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With the immense amounts of resource constraints being experienced by Australia's healthcare sector as we continue to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a greater need for nurses with high levels of expertise and advanced training.

Even prior to the global pandemic, nurses have proven time and time again to be the backbone of the Australian healthcare sector, providing a range of much-needed in-person services both within hospitals and clinics, as well as across assisted living facilities, schools, and in rural communities as well.

Here are just a few ways nurses have proven to be invaluable in the face of rapid-fire developments across the healthcare industry.

Managing hospital and clinic operations

It's recommended that tertiary students who are looking to take on a career in nursing seriously consider attaining postgraduate qualifications such as a Master of Advanced Nursing, simply because of the growing number of opportunities for advancement that nurses in Australia have today.

As hospitals and clinics across the country contend against a national shortage of healthcare professionals and other industry workers, managerial responsibilities within these agencies are being handled by health administrators and senior nurses. If merging nurses are able to equip themselves with a postgraduate degree, the likelihood of their experiencing advancement in the workplace will grow exponentially.

Supporting rural communities

As metropolitan regions across the country must combat a shortage of healthcare workers, the situation is even direr for regional communities.

Towns and cities that make up the rich tapestry of rural Australia, periodically face difficulties when it comes to keeping their local clinics and hospitals adequately staffed.

A shortage of nationally accredited and locally trained healthcare workers has prompted the federal government to look abroad for professionals who may be interested in supporting Australia's under-resourced rural communities.

With the Department of Health's Stronger Rural Health Strategy, however, these rural positions will be open to both international and domestic healthcare workers of all levels.

There are also educational initiatives within the Strategy, which allows for domestic nurses and nursing students to both undertake work placements and take on teaching and mentor roles across Australia.

Domestic nurses are likely to be integral to this government initiative, as the Department of Health is eager to provide domestic medical students with more valuable and diverse work placement opportunities.

In essence, the Stronger Rural Health Strategy is an immense opportunity for nurses to help revolutionise Australia's healthcare sector as well as boost the quality of life for the millions of Australians living in rural communities.

In the aged care sector

One of the reasons why Australia cannot afford to undervalue its nurses is simply because nurses offer in-person care, a service that is becoming especially crucial in the face of our aging population.

In their paper published by the Parliamentary Library, the Australia Institute's Marilyn Harrington and Dr Rhonda Jolly, explore the growing need for nurses in the nation's aged care sector in particular.

The 'crisis in the caring workforce', however, extends well past the aged care sector as well, and through to the disability support and child care sectors also.

Harrington and Dr Jolly assert that due to increasing needs across these three separate sectors, Australia is likely to experience a shortage of over 100,000 nurses by the year 2025.

This figure has, naturally, been used to build support and funding for government health programs and other initiatives.

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The needs of Australia's healthcare sector are evolving just as rapidly as the sector itself, and it's clear to see that nurses are set to play a major role in responding to these needs.

It's recommended that emerging nurses take full advantage of the new resources being offered to them so that they are well-equipped to enter this rapidly evolving industry environment.