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Scholarships to lure back NSW nurses

Nurses who want to return to the NSW public health system can now apply for scholarships to help them pay for mandatory refresher courses.

In a bid to lure nurses back to the system, the NSW Minister for Health Jillian Skinner has announced $150,000 in funding for 25 scholarships to support re-registration costs.

Each scholarship is valued at $6000 and targets nurses who have been employed outside of the nursing workforce for a significant period of time but are seeking to re-enter. Last year the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia introduced new practice standards, requiring three months’ full-time work in a five-year period for ongoing registration.

The standard means individuals who have not practised as a nurse for between five and 10 years need to complete a board approved re-entry program before they can be registered.

The scholarships will be awarded through Local Health Districts and Specialty Health Networks and offer applicants a permanent part-time or full-time position in the public health system. In addition to the scholarships, the NSW Ministry of Health has identified about 100 re-entry positions for those who complete the assessment of competence program but are not awarded a scholarship.

Applications for scholarships close on November 29. Successful applicants will start their Assessment of Competence Program at the College of Nursing on February 27 next year.
Last month, the Ministry for Health also released the results of the 2011 “YourSay Workplace survey” outlining key trends in the workplace culture across the state. The survey represents 31,000 employees, volunteers and health workers – about 25 per cent of Health’s workforce. It is the largest of its kind for the NSW health system.

Of those surveyed, 64 per cent said patient safety is central to all decision-making and 76 per cent of employees agreed they were given opportunities to complete training to further develop their expertise. However, Skinner said she was concerned by results highlighting inappropriate behaviour in the workplace.

While the survey showed that 73 per cent of health workers believe their supervisors treated them with respect, the report took special note of employees who were concerned about workplace bullying and harassment. “Issues raised in the survey which refer to bullying and harassment will be firmly dealt with by Local Health Districts to ensure the creation of a better workplace environment for all staff,” Skinner said.

A range of initiatives are currently underway to address workplace culture and improve conflict resolution processes across the health system, including a new taskforce on organisational change and a confidential anti-bullying hotline.

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