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Nursing graduates in demand at south-west hospitals

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South West TAFE nursing graduates are being snapped up by local health services as they continue to face recruitment problems.

With the need for nurses tipped to grow in coming years, particularly in aged care, south-west Victorian hospitals say there will be greater demand for local graduates.

A 2014 prediction from Health Workforce Australia estimated that the country will be short of about 125,000 nurses by 2030, and the situation could be worsened by the impact of COVID-19 on the nursing industry.

Following minimum staffing ratios set by the Royal Commission into Aged Care, it is estimated 57,000 extra nurses are needed across the country.

Health care directly employs almost 1.2 million people and an ageing population has created huge demand for healthcare and aged-care services across the country, with skill shortages prevalent across the field.

Portland District Health (PDH) director of nursing Ros Nagorcka said there was great demand for TAFE nursing graduates.

“There are plenty of jobs for nurses, especially in regional areas,” Ms Nagorcka said. “We often find that graduates want to work in the city and not stay in the country so we’re always looking for enrolled nurses.

“The more TAFE graduates, the better it is for us and all local health services.”

Ms Nagorcka said there were shortages of aged care and acute care nurses.

Two South West TAFE graduates have recently started nursing positions at Harbourside Lodge aged care facility.

“Over the years PDH has employed hundreds of TAFE graduates,” Ms Nagorcka said. “Most of the enrolled nurses working at PDH have come from South West TAFE and we find they are very well prepared for the workforce.”

Southwest Healthcare executive director of nursing and midwifery services, Gaynor Stevenson, said many hospitals have an aging workforce and this was felt more acutely in regional and rural areas.

“There will be nursing shortages everywhere, but it will be felt in aged care the most,” Ms Stevenson said. “We are continually looking for staff interested in general medicine and surgery, rehabilitation services and aged care.”

Ms Stevenson said South West Healthcare had employed many South West TAFE graduates and would continue to do so. “The enrolled nurse is a rare resource indeed and it is marvellous that South West TAFE is continuing this much needed training,” Ms Stevenson said. “They come out well prepared for the job ahead and we expect to be able to continue to offer opportunities to enrolled nurses.”

SWH also plays a role in supporting enrolled nurses to complete their registered nurse degree.

Western District Health Service (WDHS) continues to experience challenges with recruitment of nurses in acute, aged care and community settings.

Hamilton Base Hospital director of nursing Lorraine Hedley said nursing shortages were being experienced at a state-wide, national and global level. “We are extremely fortunate that we have nursing training providers so that our community can access locally based training to assist with addressing these shortages,” she said.

As part of student training requirements, WDHS partners with SWTAFE to provide supported clinical placements which can lead to employment opportunities once training is completed.

Ms Hedley said more than 90 per cent of WDHS’s enrolled nurse graduates have undertaken their training through SWTAFE. 

“It is rewarding to witness the professional growth of individuals from the time that they are students on clinical placement to becoming confident and competent nurses at working at WDHS.” 

TAFE graduates get recognition of prior learning if they study to become a registered nurse.