A new breed of nurse, the practical nurse, is entering the workforce, with some major employers including the Royal College of Nursing and the Australian College of General Practitioners saying they are now seeing the new crop of graduates.
Key points:A record number of nursing graduates have entered the workforceThis comes after years of slow growth for the sector, which was boosted by the recessionA major focus for many of the new graduates is on the NHS, particularly in intensive care and maternity careThe number of new nurses entering the nursing profession is up by more than 40 per cent since the start of the yearThe number in Australia’s nursing workforce is expected to double to around 2.7 million by 2020The number is on track to double by 2020 to 2.78 million graduates, according to new figures from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Commission (ANMC).
The number jumped by more the year-on-year growth to 1.8 million, but still represents a significant number.
While the overall rate of increase has slowed, the rate of growth in nursing graduates has soared from 6 per cent in the first quarter of this year to 14 per cent this quarter.
There were more than 9,000 new graduates last year, the ANMC said.
“We have seen record numbers of graduates entering the profession,” said ANMC president Dr Lisa Murray.
“In the last three years, we have seen a record number and we will see more of this type of growth as we move into the 2020s.”
While the number of graduates in the industry has increased steadily since the recession, there has been a dramatic increase in the number who are entering the sector through the RNs trainee programme, which provides trainees the chance to work in nursing.
Nursing graduates are expected to enter the workforce at a higher rate than those who are not.
The proportion of RNs in the nursing workforce has grown to 19.9 per cent from 17.6 per cent over the past year, according the ANMCC.
However, the sector is still struggling to fill the vacancies that have been created, and there are many who have had to make tough choices, such as the shortage of experienced nurse midwives.
“As the numbers of RN trainees increase, so do the numbers who are leaving the profession due to a lack of opportunities,” said Dr Murray.
Some employers are also focusing on a new cohort of students that are looking to gain valuable experience in their chosen career.
Dr Murray said there were also opportunities for nursing graduates to continue working in other industries.
“There are some organisations in the private sector that are also looking at training for the RN trainee in a range of industries and also in a number of industries that are not necessarily related to nursing,” she said.
The ANMRC says the new generation of nurses has a range in their careers.
They include students in the arts, social work, nursing and healthcare.
They can be working in an outpatient clinic, teaching, community health and in nursing facilities.
“It is an exciting time for nurses as they have the opportunity to build on the work they have done and get on to a new career, and it is also an exciting opportunity for employers to recruit more RNs,” Dr Murray said.
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