Nursing students are hoping that the upcoming Federal Election will see major changes implemented within their industry. Many student nurses are in the workforce completing practical components of their degree, but the pressures influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic are causing angst about the future of the profession.
Crystal Ram, President of the Western Sydney University Nursing and Midwifery Society, is tired of the lack of responsiveness from the government to create a safe work environment. Ram has seen the stress impact her fellow students and has watched some of them question their future in the industry.
“They are working ridiculous hours already on the frontline. When do they have time to study? When do they time to focus on other priorities?” Ram says.
“Students are dropping out when it is supposed to be about retention. More needs to be done.”
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, is aware of the pressures currently placed on nursing and wants to see a resolution come from the upcoming election.
“They are stressed, burned out and leaving the profession. This is why an Albanese Labor Government will extend health and wellbeing support for our nurses across the country with a new National Nurse and Midwife Health Service,” he says.
Labor is committed to investing up to $23 million into the proposed National Nurse and Midwife Health Service, an expansion of the Nursing and Midwifery Health Program in Victoria. The phone service will be seen as encouragement not only for nurses to stay in the industry, but for nursing students to feel uplifted about their future career path.
“The new National Nurse and Midwife Health Service will provide nurses and midwives with a range of personalised and professional support service. The program will be open to enrolled and registered nurses, midwives and students,” says Butler.
Ram is optimistic about Labor’s plan and believes it will help encourage current and future nursing students to remain in the industry.
“It is great to see the Shadow Minister collating these ideas and trying to execute them. This scheme would take a strain off nurses, and if implemented, it is the change we need,” she says.
Anne Stanley MP currently holds the Labor seat for Werriwa. In striving to be re-elected, she is campaigning for the urgent attention needed for the health care system. Her values are reflective of times where she relied on nurses, which she knows will relate to many.
“With children who were born prematurely and a Mum with a chronic health condition, we needed Medicare, doctors, but especially nurses, to provide the expertise needed to keep them healthy and to lead full lives,” she says.
A survey conducted by Monash University and Royal Melbourne Hospital showed that out of 7,800 Australian healthcare workers, more than 40 per cent had developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by the end of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stanley is ashamed of the current conditions faced by nurses. “This is just unacceptable for people who were our heroes during the pandemic,” she says.
Labor’s plan to support nurses will be largely welcomed. However, although Ram is supportive of their proposed plans to reshape the nursing industry, she does not want to see another election filled with empty promises.
“Regardless of who does become elected, something needs to change. It needs to stop being a position of profits over people because people are priority.” says Ram.
“Whether it’s any side of politics, I feel like it is the government’s duty to advocate for its citizens. Healthcare is a universal right.”
This article was first published at The Junction.