Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - July 2017
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July 2017


Message from the Chair

On behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), I’d like to invite you to have your say on the draft Midwife standards for practice.

The Midwife standards for practice have been developed by Deakin University on behalf of the NMBA and are now open for consultation. You can read a midwife’s experience of helping to develop the standards, below.

Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN
Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN

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NMBA news

Have your say on the Midwife standards for practice

Consultation on the draft Midwife standards for practice is now open and the NMBA encourages all midwives and other stakeholders to have their say on the draft standards.

The Midwife standards for practice will replace the National competency standards for the midwife (2006) in providing a framework for assessing a midwife’s competence to practise in Australia.

Deakin University has developed the draft Midwife standards for practice on behalf of the NMBA to reflect current evidence-based midwifery practice.

The consultation is available on the current consultations section of the NMBA website – have your say today.

Midwife standards for practice: a midwife’s perspective

Patrice Hickey is a midwife and member of the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) that has provided strategic input into the draft Midwife standards for practice during different phases of their development. Patrice spoke to the NMBA about the new standards, what they mean for the profession and what’s involved in being a practitioner member of the EAG.

‘The Midwife standards for practice are important from the practitioner’s perspective, the woman’s perspective and wider profession’s perspective.

These standards are used to draft policies in education, government and hospitals, to keep practice safe and give clarity on boundaries and on the different roles of nurses and midwives.

The Midwife standards for practice are crucial for everyday midwifery practice and important for the public, with a lot of diverse uses. They might be used by lawyers in court, or to develop education curricula, or by a small unit looking to set up a practice.

As an EAG member my role is to bring my professional expertise as a midwife to review the draft Midwife standards for practice. I can clarify areas of confusion, such as differences between nursing and midwifery roles.

I’ve held educational and clinical midwifery roles, nationally and internationally, and I’ve also consulted and worked with many other groups and boards – so I think that brings a balanced viewpoint and experience in being a good listener.

As an EAG member you need to synthesise lots of ideas – not get too caught up in every word in the document but focus on the concepts, and use your experience to give insight into what you’re trying to achieve.

From a personal point of view you are always learning being on the EAG, it keeps you grounded – you listen to other people and they might say something you had never thought of before.

Being on the EAG is an important role – it’s a responsible and respectful role, it’s collaborative and consultative. There are lots of layers to the process of developing the Midwife standards for practice – but the EAG is an important layer.’

You can have your say on the draft Midwife standards for practice on the NMBA consultation page.

Updates from the May 2017 NMBA meeting

Each month the NMBA meets to make decisions on the regulation of nursing and midwifery in Australia.

The May NMBA meeting was attended by the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner. The Commissioner gave the NMBA an overview of the role of her office, which is to oversee the National Scheme in relation to the functions of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the National Boards. For more information about the Commissioner’s role, visit the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner website.

In May, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee tabled its report of the inquiry into the Complaints mechanism administered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. The report is available on the Senate Committee webpage.

The NMBA has approved the enrolled nurse (EN) accreditation standards, developed by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC). These EN accreditation standards detail the requirements that education providers must meet to have an EN program accredited by ANMAC and approved by the NMBA. The standards are used by ANMAC to assess if an education provider and program provide people who complete the program with the knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to practise as an EN in Australia. The revised standards are available on the ANMAC website.

To see the May 2017 decisions on approved programs of study leading to registration and endorsement, please view the communiqué:

International Confederation of Midwives Congress 2017

In June, members of the NMBA and AHPRA midwifery policy staff attended the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) Congress in Toronto, Canada.

NMBA member, Veronica Casey, a midwife and registered nurse, said that attending the congress helps the NMBA to learn from other midwifery leaders from around the world.

‘As a midwife and an NMBA member, attending the congress is a great opportunity to connect with international leaders in contemporary midwifery practice,’ Adjunct Associate Professor Casey said.

‘The research presented at the congress was excellent, and there was also a strong consumer focus – we’re all working together on woman and baby-focused midwifery.

‘The ICM Congress is also a great place for low resourced countries to connect with higher resourced countries and share their experiences and knowledge. It’s an opportunity to learn from our peers and develop our breadth of understanding.’ 

Members of the NMBA and the AHPRA midwifery policy team stand in front of national flags at ICM Congress 2017
AHPRA Nursing and Midwifery Policy Manager Petrina Halloran and NMBA members Max Howard and Veronica Casey attend the ICM Congress in Toronto.

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Outcomes-based assessment for internationally qualified nurses and midwives

The NMBA is working to move to an outcomes-based assessment for internationally qualified nurses and midwives.

One of the main roles of the NMBA is to protect the public by ensuring that nurses and midwives are suitably trained and competent to practise. Part of this role is overseeing the assessment of overseas-trained nurses and midwives, to determine their suitability for registration in Australia.

The current interim model of assessment will remain in place while the outcomes-based assessment model and processes are developed. A request for tender is open for the development of an objective, structured clinical examination for overseas-trained nurses.

For more information please read the news item.

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Nursing and midwifery regulation at work: notification case studies

Registered nurse reprimanded for professional misconduct concerning medication

A registered nurse has been reprimanded and had conditions imposed on her registration after admitting to engaging in professional misconduct.

The NMBA decided to investigate Ms Phyllis Zietsman on 15 March 2016 after receiving information that she misappropriated a schedule 4 medicine from her place of employment at Nickol Bay Hospital in Stove Hill, Western Australia.

During the course of the tribunal proceedings, Ms Zietsman admitted that she engaged in professional misconduct in that, on 7 March 2016, she attended the hospital while not on duty and took a full box of a schedule 4 medicine for her own use, without permission from the hospital and without holding a valid prescription for that medication.

The tribunal took into consideration Ms Zietsman’s cooperation in the investigation in respect of her conduct and that she has otherwise had an unblemished record as a registered nurse. Prior to formal mediation, she made concessions in respect of her offending conduct and potential sanctions, expressing remorse for her conduct and willingness to undertake further education.

On 29 May 2017, the tribunal ordered by agreement that Ms Zietsman be reprimanded and that conditions be imposed on her registration. The conditions require her to complete a program of education in relation to legal and ethical obligations surrounding access to medication for a registered nurse.

For more information please view the news item.

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National Scheme news

Scheduled Medicines Expert Committee appointed

Late last year the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council (Ministerial Council) endorsed the AHMAC Guidance for National Boards: Applications to the Ministerial Council for approval of endorsements in relation to scheduled medicines under section 14 of the National Law (the Guidance).

The Guidance is published on the AHPRA website under Ministerial directives and communiques. It provides information for National Boards about the process for, and content of, an application to the Ministerial Council for approval of endorsement for scheduled medicines for a health profession under section 14 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

Consistent with the Guidance, AHPRA has established a Scheduled Medicines Expert Committee (Expert Committee) whose role is to advise National Boards on the use of scheduled medicines generally, and on matters relevant to a National Board’s proposal for a new scheduled medicines endorsement or an amendment to an existing scheduled medicines endorsement. Following a call for applications, AHPRA is pleased to announce the following appointments to the Expert Committee:

  • Professor Anne Tonkin, Chair
  • Ms Vanessa Brotto, core member
  • Dr Susan Hunt, core member
  • Professor Lisa Nissen, core member
  • Ms Sarah Spagnardi, core member

The Expert Committee is expected to hold its inaugural meeting later this year. Information about the Expert Committee, including the terms of reference, will be published on the AHPRA website shortly. 

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Keep in touch with the NMBA

  • Visit the NMBA website for registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQ.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN, Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 27/11/2023