May 2021

Contents


Message from the Chair

In May, we celebrate and recognise midwives on the International Day of the Midwife and nurses on International Nurses Day. On behalf of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), I would like to thank you all for your commitment and professionalism. You can read more about these days of recognition in this edition. 

I would also like to thank all of you who have applied to renew your registration with the NMBA already. It is important to remember that you can continue to practise while your application is assessed. 

If you are intending to renew your registration, please apply as soon as you can to avoid unnecessary delays, especially if you have something to declare. We’ve included information about answering the renewal questions in this edition. 

Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey, registered nurse and midwife

Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Veronica Casey 

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Call for applications 

The NMBA's state and territory boards are delegated functions by the NMBA to make registration and notification decisions about nurses and midwives. 

Applications are now sought to fill multiple vacancies arising in the following jurisdictions: 

  • Australian Capital Territory – 3 practitioner members and 1 community member
  • Northern Territory – 5 practitioner members (including Chair) and 2 community members

The National Scheme has a commitment to increasing Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ leadership and voices. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are strongly encouraged to apply, as are people from rural or regional areas in Australia.

More information about the roles, eligibility requirements and the application process can be found within the online application form on Ahpra’s Statutory appointments page.

Please note that applications close at 5.00pm AEST, Friday 25 June 2021.

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NMBA news

Image of a midwife and a pregnant woman talking at a desk. Text says celebrating midwives on International Day of the Midwife.

Caring for women during a pandemic: NMBA thanks midwives

On 5 May, the International Day of the Midwife, the NMBA thanked midwives for caring for women across the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NMBA community member and Wiradjuri woman Dr Jessa Rogers experienced firsthand the stress of pregnancy and birth during the pandemic and the importance of safe and accessible midwifery care.

‘I had my third son at the height of the pandemic in New Zealand, away from home, and the experience was traumatic at times,’ Dr Rogers said.

‘There was a fantastic midwife who made all the difference in the world to me – she really demonstrated the practice of culturally safe, woman-centred care.’

‘As a member of the NMBA, it reinforced to me the importance of continuity of care, culturally appropriate care, and the lasting impact that midwives have on mothers, long after the birthing process is over.’

Tracey, a midwife and nurse of 35 years who works in a small, women’s emergency department in Melbourne, spoke about the difficulties for midwives and the women they care for during the pandemic, as well as the courage and resilience of midwives and women in facing these challenges.

‘Our unit became first stop for anyone presenting with COVID-19 symptoms as well as women’s health issues,’ Tracey said. ‘When I had to ask staff to suit up in PPE and go into rooms – they never hesitated.’

‘Watching women come into the unit and their partners not being able to come with them – we all found that really hard, particularly if they were there for a miscarriage or something else really difficult.’

‘Social distancing was really stressful because we couldn’t gather to reflect and debrief together. We couldn’t give each other a hug no matter how hard the day was. At the same time, we saw it as a privilege to be able to go to work while so many people were locked down, so working helped us in some ways as well as being difficult.’

‘I’d like to say thank you to midwives for getting through it and taking care of each other – we know we got off lightly compared to rest of world, but it’s still been a really difficult year.’

Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM, on behalf of the NMBA, thanked midwives across Australia and the world for their commitment to women and their families during the pandemic and beyond.

‘Midwives have continued to care for women while their environment and what was required of them changed dramatically in some cases,’ Adjunct Professor Casey said.

‘On behalf of the Board, I’d like to thank midwives for their professionalism and focus on supporting women and wish them a very happy International Day of the Midwife.’

Adjunct Professor Casey reminded midwives that they can access free, independent and anonymous health support anytime from Nurse & Midwife Support on 1800 667 877 or at www.nmsupport.org.au

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Image of two nurses in scrubs. Text says celebrating nurses on International Nurses Day.

Resilience and professionalism: NMBA says thank you on International Nurses Day

On 12 May, International Nurses Day, the NMBA thanked nurses for their professionalism and commitment to their communities.

This past year has been a reminder of nurses’ resilience, with many workplaces transformed to care for COVID-19 patients or their workforce redeployed to support the pandemic response.

Brenda is an enrolled nurse who moved from anaesthetic nurse duties to a COVID-19 screening and swabbing clinic, which she is still supporting 14 months later. She reflected on the challenges of the pandemic, including for older nurses and clinicians who were not able to be as hands-on as they wanted to be as they were more vulnerable to the disease.

‘We all approached COVID with a lot of trepidation, that fear of not knowing what was coming and every aspect of our job changed. All of us had to be very adaptable,’ Brenda said.

‘We should be proud of stepping up and protecting our society. We have to give a shout out to the younger cohort of nurses who really stepped up.’

Samantha Blade is a nurse unit manager for St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne. While she is currently leading a vaccination clinic, last year her ward was transformed into a COVID-19 unit. She spoke about the personal toll the pandemic took and continues to take on nurses.

‘One of the huge things was the number of deaths that we had to go through and help the families with. It was really hard not being able to have the families there to support patients. The isolation the nurses felt on the ward was also really difficult. They were completely cut off from everyone else.’

‘As a manager, it’s difficult to help them through and you don’t feel like you’re doing enough for them.’

‘I want to say thank you so much to everyone for their support and dedication through the pandemic – a time we have never seen before and hope we don’t see again,’ Ms Blade said.

NMBA Chair, Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM, thanked nurses in Australia and those practising around the world.

‘Throughout a global crisis, nurses have upskilled, innovated, and put their patients and community first, some at great personal cost. They’ve done it with grace and professionalism,’ Adjunct Professor Casey said.

‘On behalf of the Board, I’d like to thank nurses and wish them a very happy International Nurses Day.’

Nurses can access free, independent and anonymous health support 24/7 from Nurse & Midwife Support on 1800 667 877 or at www.nmsupport.org.au 

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Updates from recent NMBA meetings

From 15-19 March, members of the NMBA and its state and territory boards attended the All Boards Combined Meeting of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, with the unifying theme: Emerging stronger and better together. The meeting focused on responding to public health crises and protecting frontline workers. It also focused on the sustainability of our health system and how to deliver equitable health outcomes; in particular, how to take action on systemic racism. 

In March, the NMBA finalised the review of the draft revised Registration standard: Recency of practice and supporting guidelines. The registration standard and guidelines will now be forwarded to Health Ministers for approval.

Each month the NMBA makes decisions on approved programs of study leading to registration and endorsement. To see the up-to-date, searchable list of approved programs, please visit the Approved programs of study section of the NMBA website.

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Registration

Image with text that reads nurses and midwives it's time to renew

How to answer your renewal questions

Quick tips on applying to renew

  • Renew now to avoid unnecessary delays in assessing your application – late fees apply after 31 May.
  • Log in to Ahpra’s online services to apply to renew, print a free copy of your registration certificate, update your details and more!
  • Remember, your user ID for online services is different to your registration number – check your renewal reminder emails from Ahpra to find your user ID.
  • If you know your user ID, but have forgotten your password, you can reset your password online.
  • If you are using BPay for your payment, please take note of the BPay details (biller code and reference number) which will be displayed on the ‘Payment Options’ screen once you select BPay. Your BPay reference number will be unique to this year’s renewal. 

Impairment – when to declare a health issue

When renewing their registration, some nurses and midwives are making declarations about health issues that we don’t need to know about. It’s only impairments that may affect your ability to practise safely that you must declare.

Impairment means any physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence), that detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect your ability to safely practise the profession.

You don’t need to include such things as wearing glasses or temporary injuries like a sprained wrist or ankle. If you’re unsure about whether your health issue should be declared, it’s best to declare it when you renew.

If you do have an impairment that either affects or you think is likely to affect your ability to practise, you must tell us about it and about what you’re doing to manage it. You should provide documents outlining your current diagnosis and/or treatment plan and a statement from your treating health practitioner confirming your current fitness to practise.

Providing these documents when you apply to renew will help to speed up the assessment of your application – you’ll be prompted to provide them via email or Ahpra online upload.

How to decide if you perform exposure-prone procedures

From 2021, when you renew your registration you’ll be asked a question about whether you perform exposure-prone procedures (EPPs) and, if so, about complying with the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) guidelines (Australian national guidelines for the management of healthcare workers living with blood borne viruses and healthcare workers who perform exposure prone procedures at risk of exposure to blood borne viruses).

The CDNA definition of EPPs is:

Exposure prone procedures (EPPs) are procedures where there is a risk of injury to the healthcare worker (HCW) resulting in exposure of the patient’s open tissues to the blood of the HCW. These procedures include those where the HCW’s hands (whether gloved or not) may be in contact with sharp instruments, needle tips or sharp tissues (spicules of bone or teeth) inside a patient’s open body cavity, wound or confined anatomical space where the hands or fingertips may not be completely visible at all times.

Midwives who undertake birthing practice may perform EPPs. The CDNA provides the following examples of EPPs:

Obstetric or midwifery procedures: including caesarean birth, instrumental birth, infiltration of the perineum with local anaesthetic, episiotomy, repair of an episiotomy or perineal/vaginal tear, application of a fetal scalp electrode, and fetal blood sampling.

Most nurses will not perform EPPs in their normal practice, unless they work in specific roles in areas such as operating theatres, for example as a scrub nurse.

Helpful guidance on what is or isn’t an exposure-prone procedure is available on the Commonwealth Department of Health website.

The renewal application form will include relevant definitions, information and links to resources to help you answer accurately.

More information is available on the Commonwealth Department of Health website. You can also view the NMBA’s Guidelines: Registered health practitioners and students in relation to blood-borne viruses on the NMBA website.

What does it mean when I’m asked if my right to practise has been withdrawn or restricted?

This question only applies to a small number of nurses and midwives, who are given ‘rights’ to work at hospitals or other facilities, such as private practice nurse practitioners or midwives who have admitting rights.

This question does not require you to declare if your employment has been terminated, suspended or you are being performance managed.

Only nurses and midwives in private practice whose right to practise has been withdrawn or restricted, based on their conduct, professional performance or health, need to declare this information.

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Nursing and midwifery regulation at work: notification case studies

Tribunal disqualifies a nurse for a year for boundary violations

A tribunal has disqualified a nurse from applying for registration for a year after she engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a patient.

Read the news item

National Scheme news

Pandemic response sub-register extended 12 months

The pandemic response sub-register, which was due to close in April, has been extended by request of the Australian Government to support the national COVID-19 vaccination effort. 

Nurses and midwives, as well as medical practitioners, pharmacists and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, who are already on the sub-register will be extended until 5 April 2022 and will be limited to helping with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

To stay on the sub-register, midwives and nurses do not need to do anything and do not have to pay fees. There is no obligation to practise or remain on the sub-register, however, if midwives and nurses do not opt out, they may be contacted by health department representatives to see if they do wish to support the vaccination rollout. They can opt out for any reason and do not need to say why.

Nurses and midwives should opt out of being extended on the sub-register if they:

  • are unavailable to support the COVID-19 vaccination rollout 
  • have a health issue which prevents them from practising safely 
  • cannot get the required professional indemnity insurance arrangements in place
  • have had a change to their criminal history, or 
  • if they are not suitable or safe to practise (but remember, we don’t need to know why a practitioner is opting out). 

The sub-register was established in April 2020 as a temporary measure for eight professions in response to COVID-19. It closed in April 2021 for diagnostic radiographers, physiotherapists and psychologists. 

Updated FAQs have been published to help answer any further questions that practitioners may have. 

Keep in touch with the NMBA

  • Visit the NMBA website for registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQs.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9285 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM, Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 25/05/2021