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“Government to lure doctors and nurses to rural regional and remote areas by slashing university debt”

14 Dec 2021

A joint media release from Aus­tralian Col­lege of Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers, CRANAplus, Aus­tralian Col­lege of Nurs­ing, APNA, Aus­tralian Nurs­ing & Mid­wifery Fed­er­a­tion, Drug & Alco­hol Nurs­es of Aus­trala­sia, and CATSINaM.

Peak Nurs­ing organ­i­sa­tions wel­come the announce­ment of addi­tion­al sup­port for health prac­ti­tion­ers to work in rur­al and remote areas.

The ABC news arti­cle, dat­ed 8th Decem­ber 2021, Gov­ern­ment to lure doc­tors and nurs­es to rur­al, region­al and remote areas by slash­ing uni­ver­si­ty debt — ABC News out­lines a plan to reduce debt relat­ed to Uni­ver­si­ty costs lead­ing to prac­tice as a nurse prac­ti­tion­er or med­ical prac­ti­tion­er, if they work in a rur­al, region­al or remote area.

It is heart­en­ing to see Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers includ­ed in this plan as they have already demon­strat­ed them­selves to be essen­tial providers of health care in Aus­tralia, espe­cial­ly in rur­al, region­al and remote areas.

It is impor­tant to acknowl­edge that there are also many reg­is­tered nurs­es work­ing in rur­al, region­al and remote areas. Although they com­prise the major­i­ty of vital health care work­ers there is already a crit­i­cal short­age. Many of them are work­ing in advanced roles, and with this addi­tion­al edu­ca­tion­al sup­port, they could become the Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers of the future. We seek clar­i­ty on whether this plan also includes reg­is­tered nurs­es. We would strong­ly advo­cate for this.

Despite the recog­nised incen­tive that fund­ing for edu­ca­tion would cre­ate, there are numer­ous bar­ri­ers to prac­tice for Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers in all areas of Aus­tralia. How­ev­er, in rur­al and remote Aus­tralia, these are sig­nif­i­cant­ly exac­er­bat­ed. Whilst we ful­ly sup­port the plan to address uni­ver­si­ty debt, with­out remov­ing the exist­ing gov­ern­ment-con­struct­ed bar­ri­ers to prac­tice, it will still not be pos­si­ble to attract more Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers in any sig­nif­i­cant num­bers. These bar­ri­ers and their solu­tions were already iden­ti­fied addressed as part of the MBS review by the Nurse Prac­ti­tion­er Ref­er­ence Group and sup­port­ed by the KPMG report com­mis­sioned as part of the process. How­ev­er, none of these rec­om­men­da­tions were accept­ed or imple­ment­ed by gov­ern­ment, and it seems there is still no inten­tion to do so.

Work is under­way at fed­er­al lev­el on a Nurse Prac­ti­tion­er 10-year plan. It may be pos­si­ble that some of the bar­ri­ers will be addressed as part of this work, although as an entire­ly new process, results will take time for con­sul­ta­tion and imple­men­ta­tion phas­es, with no guar­an­tee of success.

Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers are already high­ly expe­ri­enced and edu­cat­ed. In order to enter the spe­cif­ic Master’s pro­gram, they must have sev­er­al years of gen­er­al­ist and spe­cial­ist expe­ri­ence, a Bach­e­lor Degree, and Post Grad­u­ate Diplo­ma (or equiv­a­lent). These are prac­ti­tion­ers that are ready to prac­tise at an advanced lev­el on grad­u­a­tion, and we need to enable them to pro­vide care where it is most needed.

Media enquiries
Sam Richards
Ph: (07) 4047 6446