Stronger Rural Health – Recruitment and retention – strengthening the role of the nursing workforce

Page last updated: 08 May 2018

Stronger Rural Health – Recruitment and retention – strengthening the role of the nursing workforce (PDF 118 KB)

The Government will strengthen the role of nurses in delivering primary health care and in meeting the future health care needs of the Australian community. This supports a key role for nurses in team-based and multidisciplinary care, particularly for patients with chronic and complex conditions, and in rural and remote settings. Continued funding to the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association will help nurses move into primary health care, test new ways for nurses to deliver care and better educate nurses about primary health care. An independent review of current nursing preparation and education will also explore improvements to the system, and consider factors that affect nurses entering the workforce, and how entry and development pathways can shape future careers.

Why is this important?

Australia’s nursing workforce – including nurse practitioners – has a breadth of skills and experience in dealing with patients. We need to make better use of these attributes. Enhancing their role in frontline service delivery will improve patient care, and help the primary health care sector, including general practices and Aboriginal Health Services, to keep pace with the increasing demand for services. This will include supporting nurses as key members of team-based and multidisciplinary care in primary health care settings. It will also give GPs more time to focus on more complex care needs. Nurse practitioners are key to high quality health outcomes in regional areas.

Better educating nurses about primary care will also enhance their role and help to ensure they are sufficiently ‘work ready’ to meet changing service delivery requirements.

Who will benefit?

Patients will benefit from wider use of the skills and experience of nurses.

The primary health care sector will benefit from the broader use of the nursing workforce to meet the increasing demand for services.

Graduating nurses will be better prepared and more confident about meeting the challenges of their future careers. Nurse practitioners will benefit from greater public awareness of their role and skills. For example, raising the profile of nurse practitioners may help attract more nurses to undertake extra study to become a nurse practitioner.

How much will this cost?

The Stronger Rural Health Strategy is a $550 million investment to support improved rural health services.

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