New age in car­ing

Back­ground not a bar­rier

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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.

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