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Study Nursing in Australia

Nursing: The Healthy Option

Author Margaret McMillan 

Australian society is a vibrant mix of people from a varied range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The scale of the place, its beaches and vast deserts, the huge blue sky and spectacular storms, are the physical embodiments of a country that is open to the world and an exciting place to be, to learn and to study.

Nurse education at graduate level is provided by the Australian universities in a variety of modes: to full time students, by part time study, by distance education without requiring frequent attendance on a campus, and to nurses in remote areas who have no other opportunity to continue their professional education.

Madjar, from the University of Newcastle, Australia, noted that building on a strong tradition of excellence in nursing education and scholarship (drawn initially from Great Britain and more recently from North America), Australian nurses are rapidly developing a reputation for speaking with a fresh voice. Many of the Australian nursing faculties and departments can now boast internationally recognised scholars, whose ideas are contributing to the development of nursing education and strong programs of postgraduate education.

The various professional State Boards and Councils have been provided with insight into the scope of contemporary nursing

practice and professional boundaries in practice. Government bodies have funded research into competency standards for advanced practice, and an analysis of the experience of beginning nurses during their transition to the workforce.

Faculty and student research on the quality use of medicines by nurses is another example of research impacting on policy development and the actual practices of nurses. Through faculty work and that of postgraduate students, many nursing academics are helping to define the agenda for nursing research and practice for the new generation of nursing.

Madjar says that, while research is clearly the cornerstone of postgraduate nursing education, nursing programs in Australia

tend to offer a wide range of courses, from clinically focused Graduate Certificates and Diplomas to Professional Doctorates and PhDs. The coursework components emphasise development and application of up-to-date clinical skills and knowledge, with increasing attention being paid to evidence-based practice. Within research higher degree courses, the emphasis is on development of strong methodological expertise as well as scholarly writing. An important field of action for the schools and faculties is provision

of nurse education at university level to nursing students overseas. In Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Pacific nations, there are now hundreds of indigenous nurses who have ! Australian qualifications.

In the next millennium, the Australian Council of Deans of Nursing expects all these activities to intensify. As nursing becomes more complex and advanced, so will the initial professional preparation

of nurses. Specialisms will increase in sophistication and in number, leading to greater demands for postgraduate courses.

As communication technology develops further, the opportunities for provision of courses away from campuses and into remote areas will increase and become more effective. Research into nursing issues will grow in quantity and depth; every expansion of knowledge enlarges the perimeter of the known, the extent of the unknown, and the need for further insights. The provision of nurse education be-

yond Australia's shores will continue as long as other countries feel the need for it, and Australia retains and increases its reputation for

nursing of the highest quality - a reputation which depends not only on professional knowledge and formal education, but also on the

personal attributes of the nurses. An area which needs to expand in Australia, and which the Council is committed to expanding, is the education of nurses to work with the variety of cultures in this

country, not simply within the majority culture.

Author Margaret McMillan

Dean, Faculty of Nursing

University of Newcastle

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University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle

Callaghan Campus

Callaghan, NSW 2308


Phone: +61 2 4921 5000