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Flinders University. Photo: Supplied

University, union partner to tackle mental health nurse shortage

The university and nursing sectors have teamed up to boost the number of mental health nurses in South Australia.

Flinders University and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) joined forces to tackle statistics showing the state is set to lose up to half of its nursing and midwifery workforce over the next few years.

ANMF SA secretary, Adjunct Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars, said mental health is already chronically understaffed.

“There are hospital beds right now that remain unopened because there aren’t enough qualified nurses across the country, let alone in South Australia,” Dabars said. “Without strategic partnerships of this nature, the future of mental health looks extremely grim, particularly as an area set to lose the most nursing staff to retirement over the next decade.”

The joint project will see nurses granted more streamlined access to postgraduate studies at Flinders University by allowing them to springboard from a related continuing professional development (CPD) course at Australian Nursing and Midwifery Education.

It diverts registered nurses from the previous requisite path, where they could only access postgraduate university studies via the SA Tertiary Admissions Centre application process once or twice a year (course-dependent).

Professor Alison Kitson, Flinders University vice president and executive dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said the partnership reflects the university’s ability to adapt to meet workforce demand.

“The university prides itself on identifying ways to make it easier for people to access tertiary education, particularly for shift-workers like nurses who require more flexible study options to upskill in a specialised field,” Kitson said.

She said the partnership will make it easier for nurses to engage in “timely, relevant and manageable ‘bite-size’ learning” from CPD level all the way through to a Master’s qualification.

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