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Workforce Characteristics of Registered Nurses, Enrolled Nurses and All Employed Nurses

Discuss About The Evolution Of Nursing In Australian Practice.

The healthcare workforce Australia have been given the responsibility by the Health Ministers so that the reforms and the innovations can be identified so that the potential of the health workforce can be effectively applied at the national level.

Table 1a: Workforce characteristic of the registered nurses [source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018]

Workforce characteristic

2009

2012

2015

Headcount

225,040

238,520

263,209

FTE nurses

198,924

212,659

225,344

FTE per 100,000 population

905.9

936.4

947.6

Male population

9.8

10.4

11.8

Average age (years)

44.2

44.3

37.3

Proportion aged 50+ (%)

-

37.7

39.0

Table 1b: Workforce characteristic of employed enrolled nurses [source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018]

Workforce characteristic

2009

2012

2015

Headcount

51,711

51,624

55,383

FTE nurses

43,614

42,467

46,753

FTE per 100,000 population

198.2

187.0

196.6

Male population

8.9

9.2

9.4

Average age (years)

44.9

46.0

44.4

Proportion aged 50+ (%)

-

45.5

39.0

Table 1c: Workforce characteristics of all employed nurses [source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018]

Workforce characteristic

2009

2012

2015

Headcount

276,751

290,144

307,104

FTE nurses

242,521

255,174

270,548

FTE per 100,000 population

1,104

1,123

1,137

Male population

9.6

10.2

10.6

Average age (years)

44.3

44.6

44.4

Proportion aged 50+ (%)

36.3

39.1

39.0

The findings from the data table that are sourced from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveals an overall increase in the workforce. The workforce characteristic of the registered nurses (table 1a) shows a gradual increase in the workforce and the number of the headcount. The year 2009 was the lowest in comparison to the year 2015 which showed the highest number of the workforce. In the year 2009 the workforce was 225,040 and in the year 2012 it was 238,520 and in the year 2015, it was 263,209. The full-time equivalent is the total weekly hours worked and this has gradually increased from the year 2009 (198,924) to all over 2015 (225,344). The full-time equivalent per 100,000 population has also increased from 905.9 to 947.6. The presence of the male workforce in the profession of registered nurses has shown some progress and it is from 9.8 to 11. 8 percent. The average age in the year 2015 (37.3) has rather reduced in comparison to the year 2009 (44.2) and 2012 (44.3). One of the highlighting characteristics found from the registered nurse is the proportion of the nurses that are aged 50 years and plus are 39 percent. 

The workforce characteristic of the employed nurse in the table 1b reveals an increase in the headcount which increased from 276,751 (2009) to all the way 307,104 (2015). The more the number of the headcounts the more the number of the nursing in the workforce. The number of the FTE nurses has also increased from the year 2009 (242,521) to 2015 (270,548). The full-time equivalent per 100,000 populations is found to be 1,137 which is more than both the year 2009 and 2012. The male population in the nursing workforce has also increased minimally. The average age although has reduced and the proportion of the nurses above the age 50 plus is 39 which is less than the year 2012.

Changes in the Nursing Workforce in Australia

The workforce characteristic of all the employed nurse table 1c reveals a considerable increase in the headcount for the year 2015 (307,104) over the past years. The FTE nurses also show an increase in trend along with the increase in FTE per 100,000 of the population. The proportion of the male population has also increased. The average age of the employed nurses also shows a mild reduction in comparison to the year 2015. The proportion of the nurses above the age of 50 has also reduced to 0.1 percentage. 

The supply of the workforce has shown a positive increase in both the headcounts and the full-time equivalent nurses and the full-time equivalent per 100,000 populations. The proportion of the male population in the overall employed nurses has also increased. The change in the workforce has already been discussed in an elaborate way in the upper section.

The role of nursing in Australia has undergone changes over the past decade. In the year 2003, 40 percent of the employed nurses are absorbed into the general practice and the number was 2349. The changes in the policy have however led to the increase in the number of the nurses in the year 2008. It was estimated that approximately there is one nurse for 2.3 general practitioners. By the year 2009, about 56.9 percent of the nurses were working in the Australian general practice. The growth in the workforce has major implications for the workforce and the nurses (McCarty & Fenech, 2013). The reduction in the uptake of the postgraduate programs has led to the reduction in the number of the nurses and the improper training has led to the reduction in the professional development of the nurses. Although the postgraduate exists, the uptake has been variable. The existence of the barriers like the lack of the familiarization with the university education, cost of the university education has prevented many students from taking up the postgraduate program (Halcomb et al., 2014). There is no doubt about the nursing workforce future and is greatly dependent on the nursing students that are already engaged in the in this field. The studies conducted have shown that the majority of the students are highly mobile, and young and have completed the transition from student to practitioner. These nurses are currently working in the perioperative/surgical fields in the metropolitan areas (Huntington et al., 2012). There has been evidences that the nurse in the rural areas in comparison to the metropolitan areas are resigning (Bragg & Bonner, 2015).

Role of Nursing in Australia


There are differences in the workforce of the different sectors like the acute sector, other nursing sectors, aged care sector, emergency and the critical care sector, mental health sector. The enrolled and the registered nurses show different data sets. The acute sector employs the highest number of the registered (39%) and enrolled nurses (33%). The aged care sector employs the second highest percentage of the enrolled nurses (30%). The mental health sector employs the lowest number of registered (6%) and enrolled (5%) nurses (Health.gov.au., 2018a).

The geographic distribution of the nursing workforce for the year shows varied data across the territories and the states. In the New South Wales, the Full-time equivalent per 100,000 populations is 1,036. In the Northern Territory, the full-time equivalent per 100,000 is 1,534. Whereas, in comparison to the year 2011 the full-time equivalent has been 993 and 1,504 per 100,000 populations for the areas New South Wales and Northern Territory respectively.

Employed midwives and nurses and the rate of FTE with respect to the territories and the states from 2011 to 2015. [source: Health.gov.au., 2018a]

 In the year 2015, the overall employment of the midwives and the nurses widely vary across the remote areas. the full-time equivalent per 100,000 populations is 1,083 with respect to the outer regional areas and for the remote areas the full-time equivalent is 1,219 per 100,000 populations. The proportion of the enrolled nurses in Australia is 15.8 percent and in the outer and the inner regional areas, the value is more than 20 percent. The percentage of the enrolled nurses in the very remote areas is the lowest and the percentage is 12.1 percent.

The recommendation mentioned in the Nursing Workforce Sustainability Report highlights the major recommendations like:

  • Building the workplace capacity (Leadership)- nursing leadership is considered vital for the improvement of the productivity and retention at the local level. There is a need to encourage, enable and equip the nurse manager at the levels so that the effective leadership is promoted in the workplace (Health.gov.au., 2018b).
  • Workplace support and early career preparation (Retention)- the new nurse that graduate must be provided with the necessary skill set so that the graduates can meet the service goals and the standards.
  • Enabling innovation in the workplace (productivity)- a workplace environment has to be enabled so that the roles and the skills are able to meet the local needs (Health.gov.au., 2018b).

The recommendations are still applicable for the year 2018 because even though the profession has developed over the past few years. The very foundation or the bedrock of the nursing practices are still based on the nursing leadership, productivity and retention of the nurses. Thus, the recommendations are still necessary to improve the performance of the nursing workforce and in bettering the health outcomes (Duckett & Willcox, 2015).

Conclusion

 Thus, from the above study, it can be concluded that Australia is facing challenges in the in the rapidly growing field of healthcare. The demand for the healthcare has increased due to the ageing population and the and demands a better healthcare outcome, through the increase of nursing workforce.

Reference

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2018). Nursing and midwifery workforce 2015, How many nurses and midwives are there? - Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Retrieved 3 April 2018, from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/workforce/nursing-and-midwifery-workforce-2015/contents/how-many-nurses-and-midwives-are-there

Bragg, S., & Bonner, A. (2015). Losing the rural nursing workforce: Lessons learnt from resigning nurses. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 23(6), 366-370.

Duckett, S., & Willcox, S. (2015). The Australian health care system (No. Ed. 5). Oxford University Press.

Halcomb, E. J., Salamonson, Y., Davidson, P. M., Kaur, R., & Young, S. A. (2014). The evolution of nursing in Australian general practice: a comparative analysis of workforce surveys ten years on. BMC family practice, 15(1), 52.

Health.gov.au. (2018a). Health.gov.au. Retrieved 4 April 2018, from https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/34AA7E6FDB8C16AACA257D9500112F25/$File/AFHW%20-%20Nurses%20detailed%20report.pdf

Health.gov.au. (2018b). Health.gov.au. Retrieved 4 April 2018, from https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/29418BA17E67ABC0CA257D9B00757D08/$File/Nursing%20Workforce%20Sustainability%20-%20Improving%20Nurse%20Retention%20and%20Productivity%20report.pdf

Huntington, A., Gilmour, J., Neville, S., Kellett, S., & Turner, C. (2012). A glimpse of the future nursing workforce: the graduate e-cohort study. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, The, 29(3), 22.

McCarty, M. V., & Fenech, B. J. (2013). Towards best practice in national health workforce planning. The Medical journal of Australia, management, 10-13.

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