Student nurses drawn to primary healthcare

Student nurses drawn to primary healthcare

Seven out of 10 student nurses who completed APNA’s Student Nurse Placement Program (SNPP) said the experience exceeded their expectations, raising hopes that the next generation of nurses will consider a career in primary healthcare, according to new national data.

Results from APNA’s survey of student nurses and PHC nurses who completed the program found nine out of every 10 PHC nurse supervisors would be happy to supervise student nurses again, with the majority finding student nurses to be competent or very competent.

On the flipside, more than seven out of 10 (84.6%) of student nurses reported having a very positive experience and learning a lot from the placement.

Some of the positive feedback from nurse supervisors included:

“Was great to express how important primary care is and why it’s so beneficial to be a great primary health care nurse”

“Seeing a student who has minimal clinical experience gain confidence and proficiency, and feel they have made a good choice of profession” 

“Great opportunity to educate and train students. Nurses have a passion to do this. Great way to employ new staff” 

“The ability to learn from your students, they also teach us. Learning new skills in mentoring students. Seeing the confidence grow as the placement progresses. Seeing the student gain an understanding of what a primary healthcare nurse role is”

With an urgent need to manage increasing rates of chronic disease, an ageing population, and a rapidly ageing primary healthcare nurse workforce, APNA says Australia desperately needs more primary healthcare nurses to enter the workforce before the current generation retires and cannot pass on its skills.

“Australia’s experienced primary healthcare nurses want to pass on their decades of irreplaceable experience. Giving students the opportunity to experience primary healthcare is one of the best ways to ensure that this can happen,” APNA CEO Ken Griffin says.

“Australia is at risk of not having enough suitably trained PHC nurses to staff aged care homes, general practices, and other primary healthcare settings in coming years. We need a sustainable pipeline of qualified primary healthcare nurses now to meet the healthcare needs of the future.”

APNA’s Student Nurse Placement Program provides student nurses with exposure to a career in primary healthcare settings such as general practice or community health to perform supervised activities.

The organisation argues giving more student nurses the opportunity to experience primary healthcare will relieve pressure on overworked PHC nurses whilst boosting the student’s skillset, and establishing a pipeline of new, skilled, and experienced PHC nurses for the future.

There are already 108 Victorian and 32 interstate organisations registered with APNA’s SNPP.

Scaling up this program so that it can be coordinated nationally would provide a workforce pipeline of motivated and skilled nurses who could help alleviate the staffing crisis in aged care homes, general practice, and other primary healthcare settings across the country, APNA says.

“More nursing students must be given the chance to experience primary healthcare so that we can build a sustainable workforce,” Mr Griffin says.

“Clinical placements provide an opportunity to enhance and shape a student’s attitudes and learning experiences.”

“Nursing placements are critical to establishing a future PHC nursing workforce.  The Commonwealth Government needs to play its part by supporting a national nursing student placement scheme in primary healthcare.”

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