The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) launched its new model of assessment for internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNMs) this year. The process includes a self-check tool which enables IQNMs interested in applying for registration in Australia to have their qualifications assessed and receive advice about next steps towards applying for registration.
IQNMs who proceed to applying for registration have access to an interactive orientation package, including aspects of cultural safety education, to support them working in Australia. The orientation will support IQNMs to transition to the Australian healthcare context. The cultural safety aspects of the package were developed in partnership with the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives.
NMBA’s new Decision-making framework for nursing and midwifery (DMF) took effect in February.
The DMF supports decision-making about nursing or midwifery practice and delegation of nursing or midwifery care. We encourage all nurses and midwives, managers and employers to use the DMF in practice. The DMF is particularly helpful for making decisions in clinical practice about delegation from registered nurses and midwives to enrolled nurses and other health workers.
We also released DMF summaries for the professions of nursing and midwifery. These one-page summaries guide nurses and midwives step-by-step through making a safe decision in practice.
The DMF was developed from an evidence-based review of the previous National framework for the development of decision-making tools for nursing and midwifery practice.
In May, the NMBA sent its e-newsletter to students of nursing and midwifery for the first time, alongside their registered colleagues who receive the newsletter throughout the year.
We had previously done qualitative engagement research with students and recent graduates of nursing and midwifery approved programs of study through focus groups across the country in 2018. The aim of this research was to benchmark students’ understanding of their future professional responsibilities and identify areas for improvement in communications between students and new graduates and the NMBA.
The outcomes of this research indicated strong interest from student nurses and midwives for direct communication with their Board, including receiving e-newsletters. New graduates also indicated a desire for further support in their transition from study to complex practice environments.
We are trialling sending our monthly e-newsletter to nursing and midwifery students for the purpose of directly engaging students with their future professional requirements, supporting their transition to practice and establishing an early positive relationship with the National Scheme. As part of this trial, a new section of the newsletter was developed specifically for students and new graduates.
We will develop further guidance and support for students and new graduates, to be communicated through the e-newsletter, throughout 2020 and beyond. The NMBA will evaluate the impact of this initiative against the 2018 benchmark.
In April eligible midwives and nurses were added to pandemic sub-register to assist with the health system’s response to COVID-19. At 30 June 2,971 midwives and 21,849 nurses remained on the register.
The NMBA is supporting nurses, midwives and employers through the COVID-19 pandemic by adapting its policies and processes, as well as developing new guidance for practitioners.
The annual renewal of registration for nurses and midwives fell during the pandemic (April–May). We developed a payment plan to support nurses and midwives who were experiencing financial hardship to be able to renew their registration.
We encouraged nurses and midwives to meet their continuing professional development (CPD) requirements for the 2019/20 registration period and advised that COVID-19 training and research could count towards CPD hours. However, to further support the professions during the pandemic, the NMBA committed to not take action against any nurse or midwife who declared at annual renewal that they had been unable to complete the required CPD hours.
We also developed specific COVID-19 policy guidance for the professions, including on issues such as scope of practice, education, accreditation and clinical placements. The NMBA and Ahpra worked with government and the Commonwealth and state and territory Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers to provide coordinated updates to nurses and midwives during the pandemic.
To ensure adequate numbers of experienced and qualified health practitioners were available to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic response sub-register was launched by Ahpra and National Boards on 6 April. This sub-register enabled nurses and midwives who had recently been registered with the NMBA to practise in the short-term (for up to 12 months) if they met certain criteria such as being able to get professional indemnity insurance and having no changes to their criminal history since they were last registered.
In October, the NMBA approved the new Registered nurse accreditation standards, which programs of study must meet to become an NMBA-approved program leading to registration. The new standards were developed and widely consulted on by the NMBA’s independent accrediting authority, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC). The new standards ensure that future registered nurses have the knowledge, skills and capability to provide safe and effective nursing care.
ANMAC reviews its standards every five years and the review sought to ensure the standards could meet contemporary workforce requirements and emerging trends such as an ageing population, a significant increase in chronic disease and co-morbidities, and the diverse needs of multicultural Australians. Regular critical appraisal of the standards is required to support the next generation of registered nurses to be well equipped to provide healthcare and meet future workforce challenges. The new standards are contemporary, evidence-based and aligned with the NMBA Registered nurse standards for practice.
Associate Professor Lynette Cusack, Chair
The NMBA and Ahpra wish to thank Associate Professor Lynette Cusack for her leadership as Chair of the NMBA for the past six years and as a member since 2009. In that time, Associate Professor Cusack has overseen the development of national standards for Australia’s 400,000-plus nurses and midwives, including leading the NMBA in partnership with the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives to include cultural safety requirements in the NMBA codes of conduct. Lynette finishes her role as Chair in October 2020.