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A further 1,000 Victorian student nurses and midwives will begin work at 29 metropolitan and regional hospitals across the state to help ease the load on the under-pressure health system.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced the boost, part of the 2022-23 Budget, outside Sunshine Hospital yesterday. A $59 million investment will create 1,125 registered undergraduate student nurse positions per year for two years, while $9.8 million will generate 75 registered undergraduate student midwife jobs.

Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas addressing yesterday’s press conference, flanked by Premier Daniel Andrews, and right, nurses with ANMF (Victorian Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick. Photo: Supplied

Working under the supervision of a registered nurse or midwife, second and third- year students will initially help with showering, feeding, and transferring patients. In time, they will be expected to take on more complex tasks such as monitoring vital signs, testing blood glucose levels, and dressing minor wounds.

Midwifery students will help on maternity wards under the supervision of experienced midwives, delivering care and support to new mums and babies.

Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), the student nurses and midwives will work at hospitals and health services including Alfred Health, Austin Health, Bendigo Health, Melbourne Health, Western Health, St Vincent’s Hospital and the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, earning up to $28 an hour.

The long-running program has already seen 3,000 student nurses and midwives work in hospitals across Victoria, allowing them to gain invaluable practical experience, and provide extra support to the existing workforce.

Speaking outside Sunshine Hospital yesterday, Premier Andrews said the extra 1,000 placements would allow more student nurses and midwives to gain important practical skills and experience, ensuring that they become more confident when they eventually finish their studies and enter the workforce.

“They can be part of a team and see in really practical, first-hand ways, what the career is going to be all about. That experience is priceless,” he said.

“It makes a massive difference to our teams of healthcare professionals as well. The feedback from nurses who are working alongside student nurses, from doctors, from paramedics, from patients, indeed, is universally positive.”

Mr Andrews said student nurses and midwives would be gradually employed, based on the needs of individual hospitals. For example, Western Health is expected to take on about 200 of the students.

They will provide immediate support to the state’s stretched health system amid record demand due to challenges including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a strong flu season.

For student nurses and midwives, the program will arm them with a part-time job to kick-start their careers, the Premier said.

“That’s really important. That’s what they’re studying to do, that’s what they’re aspiring to be, that’s what they will become. And they’ll be better for that practical experience and patients are better for having additional staff, above and beyond nurse-to-patient ratios, helping, assisting, learning.”