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What’s in store for the future of the nursing industry in Australia?

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James Cook University

James Cook University

Australia, as like many other countries is facing a long-term labour shortage of nurses and this expected shortfall is expected to reach 85,000 by 2025.

In this era of rapid technological advancement there has been a shift in the way that patients receive care and the techniques and technologies in administering care. What does this mean for nurses in the future and how can they adapt in line with the changing face of healthcare in Australia?

A changing population demographic

Population ageing and the rising morbidity means that demand for nursing skills is on the rise. Population demographics in Australia and globally are seeing rising morbidity and a rise in chronic diseases.

This change in population demographics, rising prevalence of chronic diseases and mental health problems not only means the demand for nurses will increase but that nurses and health professionals will have to adapt to these changes in order to deliver effective patient care.

Further education and training to account for these developments will soon be essential for health professionals to adapt. The Nursing Retention and Productivity Project was developed as a direct response to the projected shortfall of nurses and aims to spread innovation and improve retention in the nursing sector.

The project focuses on change in three key areas: building nurse leadership capacity; improving nurse retention through early career preparation, support and provision of opportunities; and improving nurse productivity by enabling and encouraging innovation.

Technology and innovation in the nursing sector

In the report Technology, Health and Healthcare conducted by the Australian government, it was outlined that the average life expectancy for industrialised countries has risen from 45 to 75 years in the 20th century – and this is largely due to the development of life-saving technologies.

Recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are currently leading the way in the healthcare system with the introduction of robotics.

Pepper the robot is currently completing a trial and is the first social robot to be trialled in an Australian hospital. The trial is currently underway to assess how helpful robots can be in a healthcare setting – watch this space!

Technology has transformed the healthcare sector in recent years – the rise of data analytics and innovative technologies that assist health professionals and patients alike, mean that patients receive a more effective, streamlined standard of care, while saving costs for governments and healthcare institutions.

McKinsey has predicted that big data applications could save the US healthcare system over $300bn, improve transparency and improve patient outcomes.

Lifelong learning

Postgraduate study can accelerate the acquisition of high demand skills and attributes in areas such as advanced patient assessment, diagnostic reasoning, pharmacology, therapeutics, financial and human resource management, and leadership” said Dr John Smithson.

The average annual income for nurses who have a postgraduate qualification in 2016-17 was $95,391 and this figure is forecasted to increase to $111,235 by 2021-22.

Further study can not only equip nurses and health professionals with the multidisciplinary skills necessary for the future, but it can greatly improve career prospects and annual income.

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