Nurses may be able to double their income by taking on further study, with workforce shortages predicted for the near future.
This conclusion was made in a new report, The Future of Work: Occupational and Education Trends in Nursing in Australia, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics.
The report predicted the rise of chronic disease and growth in the ageing population would drive demand for nurses, and those with postgraduate qualifications were estimated to reap the greatest rewards.
The reward in this case would be an average income of $111, 235 by 2021, up from an average of $95, 391 last year.
Deloitte Access Economics' David Rumbens said a "lifetime wage premium" of 129 per cent could be directly attributed to a postgraduate nursing qualification.
“Demographic change both in the Australian population and globally is expected to sustain growing demand for nursing skills and qualifications in the future, and factors such as ageing populations and increasing prevalence of chronic diseases and mental illnesses will drive increased demand for nursing care,” Rumbens said.
“The demand for nurses arising from this demographic change will also require adaptations in the skill mix of the nursing workforce, as the growing chronic disease burden means that there will be further need for nurses to be better utilised in specialist roles."
The report also found the increased digitisation of medical records would mean nurses would need to develop skills in data management.
"As the healthcare delivery system is transformed by digital disruption, nurses will need to engage with patients in new ways and through different channels, including by learning how to operate and oversee relevant technologies," Rumbens said.
The nursing workforce is predicted to increase from 308,000 last year to 354,000 by 2021.
The annual growth rate of 2.8 per cent will be well above the 1.5 per cent annum growth forecast for the Australian labour force.
James Cook University deputy head of nursing and midwifery, Dr John Smithson Senior, said a shortage of senior nurses could propel those with postgraduate degrees into leadership positions.
“Leadership and management roles in nursing are typically occupied by more experienced nurses. The senior nurse labour shortage arising as a result of natural attrition (retirement) may create a gap between the number of nurses with sufficient experience and/or educational preparedness and the demand for nursing leaders and managers," he said.
“This impending shortage may be addressed to some extent by postgraduate courses that develop the critical skills required for those senior nursing roles.
“While some nurses may acquire the necessary skills through years of experience and on-the-job training, postgraduate study can accelerate the acquisition of high-demand skills and attributes in areas such as advanced patient assessment, diagnostic reasoning, pharmacology, therapeutics, financial and human resource management, and leadership."
Click the image below for a breakdown of Deloitte Access Economics’ employment forecasts for the nursing workforce by occupation.
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