Strategies to Address the Nurse Faculty Shortage in Australia

Tuesday, 31 July 2012: 4:00 PM

John Daly, RN, BA (Ed), BHSc (Nursing), MEd (Hons), PhD
Faculty of Nursing, University of of Technology, Lindfield NSW, Australia

Purpose: The looming shortage of nurse faculty is a serious and unprecedented human resource challenge which is high on the agenda of international organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO), US Presidents Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and the International Council of Nurses (ICN). The purpose of this paper is to describe the nurse and nurse faculty shortage in Australia and activities by organizations such as WHO, PEPFAR and ICN as well as national efforts to address nurse and nurse faculty shortages in Australia.

Methods:  Literature review, review of government documents, participation in WHO scale-up discussions and direct observation of national efforts to increase and enhance the scale-up of nurse education.

Results: International responses by WHO, PEPFAR and ICN are preliminary and currently at a policy level in the main and may focus more on developing countries rather than developed countries. According to the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare the nursing supply increased by 6.2% from 2005-2009, from 104/10,000 to 111/10,000. Despite the increase we are confronted by an aging nursing workforce across a range of practice domains from clinical to higher education and investment in nursing education has not kept up with costs. Faculty career paths are less appealing to many clinicians in Australia than in the past due to the changing nature of academic work expectations. Recently the Federal Government established a Health Workforce Australia which is charged with national health workforce planning. Leaders in nursing education are working with HWA on a range of issues which impact on undergraduate nursing education in particular.

Conclusion: Planned implementation of strategy to manage the challenges globally will require engagement and mobilization of national governments and health work force planners including Deans of Nursing. Effective global and local leadership will be critical to the success of implementation strategies.