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Profession remains firm on its opposition to TAFE nursing degrees

Nurses will not relent on their position that the education of nurses to be in a university program.

Registered nurse education must stay in the university sector – without exception. And any attempts to move it outside will be strongly opposed. Without exception.

This is the view of the Royal College of Nursing, Australia, which was extremely disappointed with the comments of former ANF president and current ACTU president, Ged Kearney, made in a recent issue of Nursing Review suggesting that the profession may relent on its opposition to TAFE nursing degrees.

Once the government-promised “rigorous requirements in the education reform proposals be put in place for the TAFE sector”, the profession might review it’s stand, Kearney said.

Not so, says Kathleen McLaughlin, deputy CEO of RCNA.

“RCNA, the peak professional organisation for nurses across Australia will not relent on their position regarding the need for the education of nurses to be in a university program,” she said.

McLaughlin said she was particularly concerned with Kearney’s statement that she was delivering the “party line” in its resolute opposition to the federal government’s April 2009 decision to grant Commonwealth-supported nursing places to the Victorian TAFE institute Holmesglen.

“RCNA is not merely delivering a party line, but stands adamantly steadfast by their position and will continue to represent nurses and support professional standards upheld by the nursing profession,” McLaughlin said.

“We will not be swayed by union influences to lower our professional standards. RCNA does not have any political allegiances and will not compromise professional standards to score political favours.”

Further, the ACTU was not in a position to advise or predict what stand the nursing profession would take in relation to the educational preparation of nurses. The NMBA determines the standard of education required for nurses for registration, she said.

“The ACTU presents a union perspective, not a professional one. Clearly industrial issues as driven by unions are distinctly different from the professional positions taken by professional organisations. It is not unusual for these positions to clash.

“We are not just about workforce numbers but ensuring professional standards of the highest order are maintained in the delivery of quality nursing care to the public.”

A letter from the ANF
The Australian Nursing Federation, as the union for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing, would like to reaffirm its position in relation to university education for nurses and midwives.

The nation’s nurses and midwives, as represented by the ANF, remain categorically opposed to any attempts to move registered nurse undergraduate education away from the university sector.

This has always been and will remain the position of the ANF.

Nursing and midwifery education must remain with the other health professions in the university sector in order to address the increasing focus on health care delivery by multidisciplinary teams and promote high level critical thinking for clinical leadership and collaborative practice.

Nursing and midwifery are complex and demanding professions that require the same rigorous scholarly preparation, based on research and evidence, as other recognised health professions.

Moving nursing and midwifery education out of the university sector will only segment and isolate undergraduate student nurses from other health professionals, remove nursing and midwifery from the environment of academic enquiry and knowledge building that universities support and encourage, and ultimately diminish standards in the professions and in health and aged care.

We have no intention of changing our position as it is based on defending the professions and the standard of care delivered to patients in an increasingly complex health and aged care system.

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