20 Nov 2023
Overseas trained nurses and midwives will enjoy shorter wait times under an expansion of assessment capabilities.
A new purpose-built centre in Melbourne will allow the clinical skills of internationally qualified nurses and midwives to be assessed sooner as a critical requirement for their safe entry to practice in Australia. Previously, overseas trained nurses and midwives who were assessed as holding relevant but not equivalent qualifications had to travel to South Australia to undertake the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations before they could be registered.
The opening of a second site for the essential assessments will further bolster Australia’s healthcare workforce, following a more than doubling of the internationally qualified nurses and midwives who were registered to work in Australia last year.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) have partnered with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) to use their Assessment, Learning and Examination Centre in Melbourne, Victoria, for the assessment of internationally qualified nurses and midwives.
Late last week RANZCOG officially opened its Assessment, Learning and Examination Centre (ALEC) for a range of internal and external services. This purpose-built facility with individual assessment rooms will reflect the clinical settings required for the delivery of the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE). There are also potential opportunities in the future to expand its testing capabilities for other regulated health professions in Australia.
Dr Gillian Gibson, President of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said, ‘RANZCOG’s new Assessment, Learning and Examination Centre is a state-of-the-art facility that will enable delivery of high standard assessments and an enhanced experience for our trainees as well as our partners. I’m looking forward to this exciting new venture.’
This year, Ahpra and the NMBA registered 273 internationally qualified midwives and 11,188 internationally qualified nurses, an increase of 127.5% and 148.1%, respectively. As the number of nurses and midwives hoping to get registered in Australia grows, this second site will enable the delivery more OSCEs per year with the capacity to increase availability dependent on demand and lower wait times for candidates.
This partnership comes after Ahpra and the National Boards made a commitment to National Cabinet to develop options to streamline and accelerate the recognition of health practitioners’ skills and qualifications to support a sustainable health workforce for the future. One area of this commitment focussed on improved assessment capacity and support.
NMBA Chair, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM said identifying a second examination site was a significant step in safely expanding the national health workforce.
‘Supporting the Australian health workforce with safe and capable internationally qualified nurses and midwives is one of the NMBA’s highest priorities and with the opening of RANZCOG’s facilities we will be able to deliver more OSCEs, more frequently. Getting more internationally qualified nurses and midwives into the workforce sooner,’ she said.
Previously the OSCEs have only been held at Adelaide Health Simulation (AHS) in South Australia and the NMBA have worked very closely with the AHS team to provide sufficient examinations to support the number of candidates.
‘The delivery of these exams for nurses and midwives is not a simple process, the highly specialised RANZCOG and AHS facilities will enable a fair and more efficient process’, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM said.
RANZCOG's ALEC is expected to deliver its first round of OSCEs in early 2024.