The Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) have released fact sheets with important information for nursing and midwifery students.
The Nursing & Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) is the national regulatory body for nurses and midwives. The fact sheet is written for application Australia wide however, each state health system has in place varying provisions for the employment of students in AIN, AIM or ‘Student Nurse’ Roles.
The purpose of the fact sheet is to define the role of the ‘Student Nurse’ as distinctly opposed to an undergraduate nursing or midwifery student who is employed as an AIN or AIM.
In NSW we do not generally have ‘Student Nurse’ roles. NSW Health does employ undergraduate students from their second year of study onwards, as well as those with vocational qualifications, as AINs or AIMs.
In the private sector in NSW, undergraduate students may also be employed in AIN/AIM or Personal Care Worker (PCW) roles.
Students in NSW wishing to contribute to the workforce during the COVID-19 crisis may apply through their local health district or private employers to do so.
The employment of students as AIN, AIM or PCW’s is independent from their nursing & midwifery studies. The scope of practice within these positions is limited in comparison to the scope of practice required to safely meet the NMBA Standards for Practice required for registration. Any hours worked under these employment arrangements would therefore not meet the requirements of clinical placements due to the limited scope of these roles.
The NMBA and the ANMAC are the bodies responsible for the regulation of the nursing and midwifery professions and the accreditation of nursing and midwifery education.
The NMBA and ANMAC recognise the significant impact that COVID-19 is having on nursing and midwifery students. Below we have highlighted important information from the fact sheet.
Can education providers extend the length of an ANMAC accredited and NMBA-approved program of study?
The NMBA and ANMAC understand that the ongoing and changing situation surrounding COVID-19 may mean that students are not able to attend classes or clinical placements and that extensions to the length of programs to enable students time to complete may be required. The NMBA and ANMAC will provide further information on this soon.
What is happening with clinical placements?
Where possible, clinical placements should continue, preference should be given to students in the final year of their program to ensure that the program requirements and the relevant NMBA standards for practice can be met for registration.
The NSWNMA continues to seek further guidance from relevant stakeholders, and to advocate for students. We are also discussing the implications of student placements with members who are responsible for supervision of students on clinical placements.
Through consultation with key stakeholders it is noted that;
Aged care placements are currently unavailable due to current government restrictions that identify that placements in aged care facilities may compromise high risk populations.
Students should continue to attend clinical placements where possible unless they themselves are at risk or vulnerable to illness (such as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, pregnancy).
It is likely not appropriate for students to be placed in high acuity settings with patients that are very ill with, or at high risk of COVID-19; such as ICU, ED, Critical Care, Oncology, Geriatric or Respiratory wards (COVID-19 wards and clinics) and Aged Care Facilities (as recommended by the Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery). This is supported by recent statements made by the Australian Governments Chief of Nursing & Midwifery Officer, Alison McMillan as well as being the position of the NSWNMA in ongoing communication to the NSW Ministry of Health.
Individual Local Health Districts (LHD) determine whether students may attend their facilities for clinical placements.
The NSWNMA will continue to advocate for members and students of the profession and will provide updates here as they are available.
Why are student placements being cancelled?
The fact sheet published by ANMAC and NMBA states that clinical placements should continue where possible, however some placements may be cancelled due to the following reasons;
- Staff shortages which will impact supervision capacity,
- The acuity of the patients being inappropriate for student placements,
- Pressure on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) availability,
- Responsible and effective use of resources and the potential for wastage,
- Risk of increased exposure for patients and critical staff.
In all cases the decision whether to offer student placements, or not, will be taken by all stakeholders with careful and balanced consideration of all relevant factors.
If I feel that my supervising RN or midwife is unable to safely accommodate the supervision required of my placement – What should I do?
To discuss your concerns, speak to your clinical facilitator and contact your education provider’s clinical office, who will then be able to escalate these concerns through the appropriate channels. If your supervising RN or midwife expresses such concerns, encourage them to escalate via the ward NUM or the facilities normal process of escalation. Be mindful that during these challenging times, your supervisor’s primary responsibility and concern is the safety of their patients, themselves as well as the students they are supervising.
What should I do if I am on professional experience placement and there isn’t enough PPE to allow me to engage in the care of patients?
Your facility is responsible for providing appropriate PPE based on the clinical needs of each area. If you cannot access the appropriate PPE, then you should not engage in the care of a patient until it becomes available and you should escalate this to the facility via your RN or midwife and to your education provider via your clinical facilitator.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association is providing support and advice to students concerning the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). You can see the homepage for Nursing and Midwifery Student information for COVID-19 here.