The nursing profession will continuously play a critical role in extending health care to individuals and communities across the globe. Nurses are instrumental in all healthcare activities and practices and they happen to be the first healthcare professionals to welcome patients at the health facility and journeying with them through the treatment processes. To this end, nursing job opportunities will always be high. This withstanding, the demand for nursing services will always outdo the available nursing workforce at any point in time across the globe. In the Australian context, the demand of nursing services is projected to continue rising majorly due to a fewer number of those seeking nursing professionalism, the rise in aged population as well as the general population, staff turnovers and high rate of retirement from the profession.
To this end, those aspiring to be nurses in future need to orient their skills, knowledge, and experience so that they can fit various nursing opportunities. (Finch, Hamilton, Baldwin & Zehner, 2013, pp.681-704). Moreover, acquitting oneself with the dynamics of the Australian healthcare labor market can assist students to customize their career goals to the requirement of the market and by extension lead a successful, fulfilling career life. The purpose of this paper is to analyze and evaluate the Australian healthcare labor market trends for purposes of appraising the current and future career opportunities for nursing students.
Australian Labor Market: Trends in the Health Care Industry
According to Indeed Hiring Lab (2018), the Australian healthcare industry is not only the largest but also the fastest in growth. In any given year, healthcare job advertisements account for at least 10% of all Australian labor market job postings. 30% of these 10% healthcare job ads relate to nursing jobs. Indeed Hiring Lab (2018) also deduced that the healthcare industry is the fifth largest employer in the Australian labor market having employed directly approximately 8% of the total Australian workforce. The Department of Health, Health Workforce Data (2018) released in a report that 1,663,900 people were working in the healthcare sector in 2018 and that the increased demand for healthcare practitioners was occasioned by faster retirement rates of the older workforce.
The demand for nursing professionals is followed by healthcare managers, general practitioners, and social workers at 13%, 9.2%, and 5.8% respectively. In contrast to the other Australian economy sectors which have seen a 1.5% rise in employment in the last decade, the healthcare sector employment has continuously risen by 4%. Between 2013 and 2016, the total registered and employed healthcare practitioners were 504,112, 517,403, 531,940, and 548,405 for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 respectively. Those in the nursing and midwifery profession in the same period were 295,177, 300, 000, 306,472, 315,137 for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 respectively [Health Workforce Data Summaries, 2018].
In the coming years, this trend will continue to be witnessed as the populations grow and older healthcare professionals retire [Indeed Hiring Lab 2018]. Moreover, a report earlier in 2018, Department of Health though its Health Workforce Data observed that there is a grey decline in the number of qualified nursing professional. In the report, Victoria ranks behind Queensland and New South Wales in terms of easiness of finding the right candidate for a nursing job (0.7, 1.1, 1.8 suitable candidates per job respectively).
Of Australia’s vast states and territories, Western and Southern Australia’s nursing professions shortages have however substantially improved. The Department of Health in 2014 projected that nurses’ shortfall would reach the unprecedented high of up to 85,000 nurses by the year 20 25 and a further 123,000 by 2030 [Health Workforce Australia, 2014]. Such an industrial position posits grey challenges to Australia's future healthcare situation and indeed something drastic has to be done. This is also with the realization that at the moment Australia is adamant about recruiting nurses from overseas. Indeed, nursing job postings will continue dominating the healthcare labor industry space in the unforeseeable future following these revelations and therefore state, federal and territorial governments need to joint efforts in elevating the industry. In 2017, the Burning Glass Technologies ranked the Australian healthcare industry job listings number one in which 21.56% of all job listings being of a health care nature.
Healthcare Sectors and Occupations: Aged Care or Mental Health Sectors.
From the foregoing healthcare industrial analysis, it is vivid that, the industry promises great opportunities for all aspiring students aspiring to take nursing as a career. Any career path young graduates may pursue is bound to promise a fulfilling nursing career experience. Amongst the varied healthcare sectors, I would wish to work in the aged care or mental health sectors. These two areas are broad-based and give nursing graduates an opportunity to fully exploit their nursing education, training, and skills besides having many opportunities for future career growth and development.
The motivation to pursue nursing career prospects in the aged sector, derive insights from the current situation of the Australian healthcare labor market and projected future trends. The Department of Health through its Health Workforce Data show that there is an increase in the Australian number of senior citizens, which by extension will necessitate an increase in the number of nurses pursuing specialization aged care. With the fast retirement of the aging nursing workforce, this is one sector that is bound to experience serious shortages of nursing staff. The 2014 Health Workforce Data shows that 33% and 29% of all registered and enrolled nurses working in the aged care were 55-64 years of age while 25% and 32% of the same were 45-54 years of age. This clearly shows an aging workforce is of great concern in the aged sector. Many fresh nursing graduates are often not interested to work in the aged care sector because of the nursing demands of the elderly.
Nursing career opportunities in this sector include palliative care nurses, psychiatrist, registered nurses and family practitioners. Equipped with the Master of Nursing, I feel competent enough to tackle all the challenges and opportunities posed by the occupations. The nursing graduate degree has impacted with the requisite skills, and knowledge to this end. My short-term goals include meeting the primary health care needs of the aged while in the long term I would dwell more with psychiatric conditions management as well as palliative care.
My motivation to work in the aged sector also attracts my aspiration to work in the mental sector as well. Like has been noted, the fast retirement of nurses attract grey challenges for healthcare sectors such as aged care and mental health. The Health Workforce (2014) data deduced that for every 110 retiring health professionals, only about 84 professionals are in a position to replace those retiring. To this end, mental health posits as a very viable career path for me. Like is the case with aged care, registered and enrolled nurses working in the mental health sector aged 55-64 and 45-54 years of age accounting for 29% and 35% of the total mental health sector workforce. Registered nurses aged 20-34 working in the same mental sector constitute only7% of the total mental health sector workforce [Health Workforce, 2014].
Possible career paths in the mental health sector include psychiatrist -mental health nurse; clinical psychologist; mental health psychiatrist; social and community managers; substance abuse nurse registered nurses; and family practitioners. In the short term, my goal is to work directly with communities in meeting their mental health needs such as offering counseling services while in the long term, I would wish to be involved in the formulation of policies, programs, and procedures of handling patients with mental disorders.
Intercultural Challenges Facing International Students
International students studying in Australia undergo many challenges once they get enrolled (Sawir et al., 2008, pp.148-180). Many find themselves isolated and in shock of being exposed to totally new cultures (Medved, Franco, Gao, & Yang, 2013) which by extension hampers their smooth learning endeavors. International students are likely to undergo a culture shock with feelings of loneliness, stress, depression, and homesickness being rampant. Students often find themselves not in a position to contain a mixture of beliefs; communication patterns; interpersonal relationships; value systems; and signs and symbols of social contracts of people from all walks of life. Malau-Adult (2011, p.40) contend that language posits a grey challenge to global students. Most students complain about having inabilities to adjust to the Australian accent and dialects.
If unchecked, these intercultural challenges can pose a grey hindrance to my career development and professional growth. For example, lacking abilities to freely interact with people from all walks of life and accommodating their cultures can make me lose many job opportunities or impair with my workplace productivity. Moreover, language barriers can make me fail job interviews. To overcome these challenges, I will be forced to steadily orient myself to appreciate and get accustomed to other cultures. Campbell (2012. pp.205-227) advise that forging lasting relationships, being friendly and communicative to different students can go a long way toward helping students acclimatize to their new life settings.
Recommendations: Healthcare Institutions, Maximizing Employability and Job Seeking Strategies
My master in nursing gives me the confidence that I can confidently work in any top-notch healthcare institution here in Australia. The Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) which is located in Parkville, Victoria has always been my dream workplace institution. Being in the inner suburbs of Melbourne makes the hospital accessible removing any transport challenges. RMH’s history dates back to 1848 and has been ranked as one of the leading Australian public hospitals. RMH offers many career growth and professional development opportunities to its staff, a virtue that auger with one of my nursing goals and aspirations. Besides extending extemporary healthcare to Victorians over the years, RMH elevates healthcare nursing outcomes through training and medical research [The Royal Melbourne Hospital, 2018]. Indeed, the nursing skills, values, code of conduct, and experience, I have gained so far seal the reason why I am fit to work for this institution.
Another hospital that I will dare apply for a nursing job is the Mater Hospital. Located at the heart of Brisbane, it removes the huddles of transport and accommodation for a young graduate. The Mater Hospital offers a great working experience which includes opportunities for both career advancement and professional growth by engaging in continues research and staff education and training. Founded on the footing of clinical excellence, the Mater Hospital promises patients quality health care and empathetic healthcare services [Mater Hospital, 2018]. The excellence ambiance created by this institution by and large meet the nursing skills, interests values and career goals that I have always aspired for which builds the confidence that I am best suited for Mater Hospital.
The St Vincent's Hospital located in the inner suburbs of Sydney is another healthcare institution I would put into consideration. Founded in 1957, the hospital has been working in close collaboration with the University of New South Wales Medical School. Commitment to education, nursing training and professional growth lies at the heart of the hospital This commitment guarantee that the St Vincent's Hospital’ services meet current nursing requirements as well as patients community expectations [St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney, 2018] The nursing standards set by this hospital by and large elicit my motivation of wanting to be part and parcel of its able workforce. These standards align with my career goals, interests, and professional values.
Like is the case for all the major professions, the nursing profession is becoming increasingly competitive. Efforts to maximize one's employability in the short term and in the future are therefore critical. For my case, I will endeavor to engage in volunteer and community works. El Haddad, Moxham, and Broadbent, (2013. pp.233-238) advise that such engagements leverage job seekers when applying for jobs and handling interviews. I also aspire to register for a post-graduate nursing program that will culminate in the conferment of the Doctor of Nursing Practice. Moreover, I will attend nursing short courses, nursing workshops, training, and seminars, and training besides elevating my research projects and survey skills.
While seeking employment, I will endeavor to form formidable relationships and networks with various industry stakeholders rather than just applying and waiting to be called for an interview. Menzio and Shi, (2011, pp.468-510) observe that building a grounded social presence and pursuing particular organizations can go a long way in securing a fresh graduate a job. One way to get noticed by organizations is having an extemporal resume, good ranking on professional job sites besides customizing cover letters to cater for the particular requirements of various job postings (Bridgstock, 2009, pp.31-44; Taylor, 2016. p.1).
By and large, having sound understanding needs of an industry and its trends can go a long way in forging a fulfilling career. This nursing career overview of the Australian healthcare labor market will be instrumental in giving me a footprint while I am out there seeking for a nursing job opportunity. The realization that there exists a shortage of nurses in Australia gives me the motivation to present myself for employment in Australia’s top-notch healthcare facilities. To reach these highly elevated career goals, maximizing my employability will be a prime priority besides snubbing any intercultural challenges that may object to me from bravely pursuing my career endeavors as an international student in Australia.
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