Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - NMBA getting nurses and midwives ready to work quicker
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NMBA getting nurses and midwives ready to work quicker

13 Mar 2023

Steady growth in the number of Australian and overseas qualified nurses and midwives applying for registration is being further boosted by a range of measures the NMBA is introducing to get them work-ready sooner to ease the strain on the existing workforce.

Key points
  • The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) is introducing a range of measures to support the growing demand for registration.
  • The registration process for international graduates is being streamlined with a big jump in the number of Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) places being offered and a second OSCE site to be available later this year. There is also a new program to better prepare international graduates for the OSCE exam.
  • The NMBA is working to make it easier for nurses and midwives out of the professions who want to return including a quicker pathway for those out between 10- 15 years.

Effective immediately, formerly registered nurses and midwives who have not practiced for 10-15 years can now be considered for provisional or general registration with conditions. Once assessed and if appropriate, these nurses and midwives may be given the opportunity to complete a six-month re-entry program instead of undergoing a university assessment, which could take over 12 months.

The NMBA is also conducting a full review of the policy: Re-entry to practice for nurses and midwives to assess how it can be further simplified to support of a nurse or midwife’s return to practice. 

NMBA Board Chair, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey said there was a need to have easier pathways to practice safely in Australia.

’We acknowledge the immense stress and pressure our nurses and midwives are experiencing currently so the NMBA is taking steps to simplify the pathways to registration while maintaining a high standard of care for the public,’ Prof Casey said. 

More work is also underway to support internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNMs) to get registered in Australia sooner. The NMBA has boosted the number of Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) by almost 30% this year at Adelaide Health Simulation, eliminating exam wait times for overseas qualified nurses looking to get registered in Australia. 

The NMBA is also exploring the opportunity of a secondary OSCE location in 2023.

By the end of 2021/22, applications from overseas practitioners returned to pre-pandemic levels with 2,015 applications from internationally qualified nurses and midwives. 

International applications have continued to rise in the first few months of 2023, setting Australia on track to surpass the applications of the past two years.

More than 2200 IQNM applicants have already applied for registration in Australia this financial year and almost 500 applicants recently sat the exam over a two week-period - the largest cohort at one time.

The NMBA is also supporting the development of an accessible and affordable online Registered Nurse OSCE preparatory course that will provide critical information on the Australian healthcare context and support IQNMs through the examination process. 

‘There is no single measure we can take to address labour issues and we are working hard to support those who want to get registered as a nurse or midwife in Australia into the workforce quickly and safely,’ said Adjunct Professor Casey.  

The NMBA expects these changes will help more nurses and midwives get registered and ease the burden on the current 436,866 nurses and 7,357 midwives in Australia. This includes 17,849 new local graduates getting registered to join the workforce.

Further information

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Page reviewed 13/03/2023