New age in caring
Background not a barrier
THE modern nursing workforce is more educated and diverse to ensure staff keep up with the changing face of the sector. Men increasingly are joining women in nursing and recruits often are mature workers seeking more rewarding work later in their careers.
Nursing students now have to achieve a university degree before they are employed, instead of learning on-the-job in a hospital.
Latest statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveal there are 2200 men among the 24,000 nurses in South Australia. That is almost a 50 per cent increase on the 1500 men of the 22,000 nurses in SA 10 years ago.
Flinders University School of Nursing and Midwifery Dean Professor Paul Arbon says more mature workers are changing to a nursing career later in their working lives to make a difference in the community.
‘‘Nursing now is about people who enjoy helping people and want to make a difference and do something that’s rewarding,’’ he says.
‘‘It is not unusual to have mature-aged students.’’
Nurses have needed a tertiary qualification since 1986 to help them develop theoretical and insightful, rather than just practical skills. ‘‘Nursing isn’t about what we do to people but how we listen to people, respond to that and provide medical care,’’ Professor Arbon says.
‘‘Anyone can do an injection. It doesn’t take long to learn how to do that. Being the advocate, that’s really what nursing is about.’’
Second-year nursing student Paul Deeble, 45, was a baggage handler when he decided to pursue another career for a new challenge.
He had not considered nursing until a friend suggested that as a career option.
‘‘I’m always going to have a job. There’s always going to be people who need nurses,’’ he says.
He says the mobility of a nursing career, which allows nurses to work anywhere in the world, also was appealing. ‘‘I’m finding my renal placement fascinating, as well as working in mental health. I love working with kids and doing that, to me, at the moment is really interesting,’’ he says.
He is studying with several other matureaged students. He says gender is not an issue. ‘‘Male or female, it doesn’t matter. Helping people is the attraction,’’ he says.