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APNA's new program will allow student nurses to complete their placement in aged care homes.

Student nurses lead the way in aged care placements

The Australian Primary Heath Care Nurses Association (APNA) has stationed its first 76 student nurses in aged care homes to complete their clinical placements.

The students are part of a new Commonwealth-funded aged care placement program, where eventually, the residential aged care sector will recruit the nurses.

The program launched in June and aimed to place around 1,800 second and third-year nursing students in aged care. An estimated 140 students will start during the first month.

APNA President Karen Booth said, "Providing a pathway for nurses, especially new graduates, into aged care is a much better and more sustainable option than recruiting from overseas."

APNA launched the program to address recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. It will ultimately support the new 24/7 nurse mandate.

"We need a sustainable pipeline of qualified registered aged care nurses now to meet the health care needs of the future. APNA's program provides that pathway," Ms Booth said.

The Department of Health and Aged Care predicted a nursing shortfall of about 8,100 in residential aged-care facilities between 2023-24. The sector needs an additional 14,000 nurses to meet the 24/7 requirement.

APNA's program targets student nurses' support, which includes direct supervision from an APNA-employed RN and resources readily available. The program also focuses on an enhanced and unique university curriculum that maps learning outcomes into placements and allows second and third-year students' work to align with the work of an RN.

"Great residential aged care needs great aged care nurses," Ms Booth said. "That starts with giving nursing students a positive aged care placement during their studies."

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