A future of nursing shortages


Australia faces a shortage of the equivalent of 27 percent of the entire nursing workforce within 13 short years, according to a new Health Workforce 2025 report. Current staff shortages, let alone the prospect of increasing staff shortages, will come as no surprise to staff themselves, as pointed out by Martin Laverty of Catholic Health, but hopefully will act as some kind of wake-up call to ‘consumers’ and governments across the board.

The report posits that measures to increase nurse retention offer the best prospect for meeting the shortages, “reducing the workforce gap by an estimated 82 percent for registered nurses and 66 percent for enrolled nurses”. The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) called on all levels of government to “act to provide better wages, training and education and career pathways to ensure the recruitment and then retention of Australia’s nursing and midwifery workforce”.

Do you see evidence of the shortages in your own workplace? You would think that such huge shortages would make nurses an even more valuable commodity – do you see any signs of that?

Image credit: anf.org.au

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  1. Believing that there was a shortage of nurses I did return to practice course a couple of years ago and have only been able to get casual or temporary work since. I have spent months between jobs submitting applications only to get multiple knockbacks. I have had enough and now want to start working for myself. If there is a shortage of nurses 13 years from now, I doubt I will waste my time doing another return to practice or nursing degree course. They can recruit AINs to replace nurses as they have already been doing this. I don’t care anymore because I need a job now and since I can’t get one as an RN I am quitting nursing for good.

  2. Yes, there may be a nursing shortage but that does not influence the fact that there are funding cutbacks to health institutions. Nurses have standards when it comes to income and therefore they have cut the amount of nurses to save. Regardless of this “shortage” penny pinching is put first. No one cares about the nurses being over-worked. This means that instead of hiring more nurses, we’ll be made to do the work of 3-4 other people for only one wage. I work as much as 2 staff members and I still get told to work faster! There’s a limit to what is possible for a human!

  3. I wrote a paper last year titled “The future of the registered nurse”, it was published here in three parts. This year I wrote the future of the education of the nurse, a follow on really of the original paper.

    It outlined that we are not retaining our RNs with this education style, nor are we attracting would-be nurses by this current format of education. A simple test like that of the Ambulance acceptance criteria would sort out straight up who was suitable to educate. There is no education status to become an ambulance officer but you do have to pass psychological suitability along with basic testing in English and Maths, not the convoluted rubbish that the nurse now has to pursue. There is a waiting list to become an Ambulance Officer/Paramedic.

    The Battersby Report of 1990 found early evidence of the RN (University educated) not staying in the profession and the Garling Report stated that by 2011/2012, we would “need to replace 25% of the entire nursing workforce one way or another”. It would appear that the RN nurse role is now so devalued that we can replace them “one way or another” with the AIN – leading to a doubling of the RN’s workload with the inevitable burnout and loss of more staff. The AIN education, unable to be approved by AHPRA!- such is the apathy of our leaders who should collectively hang their heads in shame at their apathy and failure to act.


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