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The future of nursing in Australia: Navigating challenges and embracing opportunities

Future Of Work
CXC Global4 min read
CXC GlobalMarch 10, 2024
CXC Global

Addressing Australia’s nursing challenges

The World Health Organisation anticipates a deficit of 10 million healthcare workers by 2030. In a Care Workforce Labour Market Study conducted by the Australian Government in 2021, a shortage exceeding 200,000 full-time healthcare workers was projected in Australia by 2050. And the biggest workforce in this sector, are nurses.

There are many worrying factors about these statistics. But the most concerning is this: nurses are leaving the profession in droves.

As the demand for healthcare services continues to rise, Australia’s healthcare system needs to find innovative solutions to meet the growing needs of the population, where nurses are concerned. Solutions like embracing technology, policy reform, global collaboration and best practice adoption, as well as improved training protocols will address the challenges facing nursing.

And that’s what we’ll cover in this blog post today.

Understanding the nursing shortage in Australia

The depth of Australia’s nursing shortage is keenly felt in all areas of healthcare, but none more so than in regional locations and aged care. With an aging population, a rise in chronic illnesses and an ongoing demand for talent, the need for nurses’ places enormous pressure on both the wellbeing of the nurses, and their ability to provide the highest standard of patient care.

The adoption of international best practices is viewed by many in the industry – on both the clinical and administrative sides – to be a potent local solution. By enabling nurses from across the globe to share adopted best practices, positive outcomes can be realised. Factors like:

  • enhanced knowledge and education
  • professional resilience
  • a sense of solidarity amongst nurses facing similar challenges.

Innovative strategies for workforce development

The nursing workforce in Australia can greatly benefit from the integration of global best practices into the profession, as a means of enhancing workforce knowledge and development and to mitigate the challenges facing nursing.

Best practices are those healthcare approaches, methods, interventions, procedures or techniques that are evidence based and that stand to improve patient outcomes, and nursing capabilities.

Sharing best practices, local research and new, innovative approaches to nursing, has the potential to benefit all nurses irrespective of their location. A progressive, collaborative, cross-border approach can result in the adoption of successful strategies experienced in one country, by another.

Also, nurses get to attain knowledge of what works in their profession, outside of their own cultural scope. This is not only beneficial for the nursing workforce and migrant or international patients but could also enhance workforce planning and candidate pipelining.

New and innovative strategies in the approach to nursing are also crucial for the effectiveness and sustainability of the profession. The prolific development of medical technologies such as telemedicine, wearables, and digital solutions that enhance accuracy, efficiency and patient-centred care, are just the start of the innovation shift. The modern approach to integrate technology into the patient assessment process allows for greater efficiency, streamlining of data collection and better, faster diagnostic interpretations.

Compared to traditional methods of nursing – some of which will stand the test of time – the new innovative approach to nursing, is the future for a more efficient, productive and engaged workforce. And importantly, a workforce that isn’t stretched and stressed to the point of leaving the field altogether.

Recruitment and integration of nursing innovations

The way nurses are being trained globally is changing through innovation and is a core solution to the challenges facing nursing.

Technology is the key source of change as technology integration in nursing education has transformed learning. Simulations, virtual reality, and online platforms offer realistic scenarios and flexible education options for nurses to enhance skills while working.

These innovative training opportunities will be vital to enhance recruitment capabilities of grassroots talent: millennials, with deep technology awareness and experience, are able to view nursing as a tech-enabled career.

Nursing education and innovations must also factor in cultural considerations to facilitate both better workforce planning, and better international patient care.

The inclusion of cultural competency and diversity training to promote cultural awareness, and to eliminate unconscious biases will enable nursing to become a truly global profession. Nursing students’ participation in learning activities to challenge stereotypes, understand social determinants of health, and learn how to provide equitable care to diverse individuals, will allow nurses to leverage global knowledge with local strengths.

Expanding the workforce through technology

The nursing shortage is pushing care teams to their limits. Technology can streamline workflows, automate documentation, and enhance communication, allowing nurses to have more time to dedicate to their patients.

Healthcare providers can address the nursing shortage by offering telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM) services, enabling patients to receive acute care at home through a ‘Hospital at Home’ program.

The pressure on nurses must be released – only then will we realise a better nurse/patient experience and be able to offer patients the care they deserve. The sector needs to rely on technology, new innovative learning techniques and global insight sharing to achieve this.

A blueprint for nursing in Australia

Nurses, known as the cornerstone of healthcare systems worldwide, face a multitude of challenges intertwined with the socio-economic and cultural fabrics of their regions. To tackle these challenges effectively, it is essential for policymakers, healthcare institutions, the education sector and the community to work together. This collaboration involves creating supportive work environments, investing in education and training, and acknowledging the significant role nurses play in global healthcare. By uniting in these endeavours, we can overcome obstacles and secure the strength and longevity of the nursing workforce on a global scale.

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