The search is on to find 1400 nurses and midwives to fill the new ratio positions, yet AHPRA is placing unnecessary obstacles in the way of nurses wishing to return to the profession.
We have a chronic shortage of nurses, funding has become available for around 1400 new jobs in the public health system and many nurses and midwives who who took time out to have children now want to return to work. It should be simple: all efforts should be made to help these nurses back into nursing.
Yet, many nurses and midwives have told the NSWNA they face numerous obstacles to re-entering the workforce.
If you have experienced this, please share your experiences with us in the comments section below!
Janelle Atkinson, a qualified nurse and midwife living on the North Coast, learned only last August she had lost her registration due to the recency of practice laws that took effect in July last year.
Like others who have been out of paid nursing work for years, Janelle Atkinson has been barred from re-entering the workforce due to the way the new national professional standards have been implemented, in her case the recency of practice rule.
The rule requires a re-entry to practice course unless the nurse has done at least three months’ nursing in the previous five years. People who have been out of nursing for at least 10 years must start again.
Janelle has been dealing with the new Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), members of parliament, the College of Nursing, and others, including the NSWNA. She has proposed a way forward to enable qualified practitioners such as her to re-enter paid work.
The NSWNA is trying to negotiate with authorities for a period of supervised practice for such nurses, most who are believed to be women who took time out for motherhood.
Janelled has been offered local clinical practice, which may help in reaching a solution in her case.
$10,000 FOR RE-ENTRY COURSE
Currently in NSW, the only available re-entry course for Registered Nurses is from the College of Nursing, a non-profit provider at Burwood in Sydney, which is offering a two month re-entry course of one month’s theory and another of practice for $10,000 for 300 hours of training.
This fee, if annualised and in the present absence of any public support, would equate to a full-fee university course of as much as $50,000 a year. AHPRA has given Janelle a letter of referral to the college. There is no specific re-entry course for midwifes in NSW.
Janelle, who is country-based, practiced and studied from 1989 to 1999, when she took a break to have her first child. She returned to work on the night shift in 2000, until well into her second pregnancy.
‘In 2002, after the birth of my second child, I made the heartwrenching decision to stop nursing temporarily and stay home with my children.
‘In 2010, my third child commenced primary school and I had planned to return to nursing, but then in January my husband purchased a new business which, for that year, required my assistance to set up and run.
‘This year was to be the year for me. I have renewed my registration on time every year, as I have always planned on returning to the profession I loved.
‘I subscribed to Healnet and started undertaking recognised online courses to obtain continuing professional development points.’
Janelle also trained as a volunteer ambulance worker, requiring in-depth training by the ambulance service and to be on call 24/7, as volunteers can often get to a scene faster than regular staff.
‘I was interviewed, and offered a position, at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus [of the Mid North Coast Local Health District], as a midwife. They offered to fully support me back into midwifery via a buddy system, and a midwifery support educator located in the ward.
‘The [campus] is a teaching hospital. I was so excited to be going back to the profession that I loved and to be an integral part of a hospital system again.
‘[Last June] I received a letter from AHPRA proposing to refuse my registration due to the recency of practice laws and standards. I prepared a submission to the [nursing] board, with advice from AHPRA over the phone and support from the [campus]. My submission failed.
‘I am completely devastated that I cannot commence my position as a midwife and, more so, that my whole career has been discarded after all my years of education and experience.’
Stay tuned for Part two of Janelle’s story about her appeal, tomorrow!
Please leave your comments below in the comments section. We want to know what our nurses think of the ‘Recency of Practice’ laws.
Image credit: The LAMP, NSWNA.