Critical health problem in nursing jobs

Posted October 13, 2011, by Helen Isbister

For well over two decades there have been warnings of a looming crisis in the health-care system due to the ageing population and significant workplace shortages.

With nurses accounting for 60 per cent of the sector, there are plenty of incentives designed to attract people into the nursing career path!

Up to 12 000 registered nurses are required to graduate each year to keep the industry fully staffed – but only half this quota is being met. And with the average age of nurses now well over 40, the skills shortage is predicted to become more severe over the next two decades.

While that’s not exactly good news, it does mean that employment prospects in nursing are excellent!

Nursing is constantly evolving, with ever-expanding opportunities and cutting-edge technology. You can follow a path across a whole range of specialities – from midwifery, trauma and orthopedic to aged care, mental health and research.

The crisis is particularly severe in rural areas where nurses are staffing hospitals having difficulty finding round-the-clock medical staff.

And with a worldwide shortage of nurses, there are plenty opportunities to take your career global. In fact, many nurses see having a stint overseas as a rite of passage. Common destinations are the UK, USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand.

While nursing has a reputation for bad pay, graduate salaries for registered nurses is in excess of $40 000, with experienced nurses earning anywhere between $60 000 and $85 000. And the fact that nurses are in such high demand means that pay and conditions are on the up!

Another thing this career has going for it is that it frequently tops the ‘most trusted profession’ poll run annually by Morgan Poll, ahead of pharmacists, ambulance drivers, and doctors – and streets ahead of politicians and lawyers.

At a recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, the Federal Government promised to spend an additional $500 million to support the expansion of undergraduate clinical training places and to directly subsidise clinical training for undergraduate medical, nursing and allied health students.

There are hundreds of nursing scholarships for students. Recently, the Minister for Ageing recently announced $1.6 million in funding for aged-care nursing scholarships.

The Royal College of Nursing Australia (, provides details of the various nursing scholarships available.

Helen Isbister

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