SCU is working with accreditation and registration bodies to fast-track current international and domestic student nurse registrations.
SCU is working with accreditation and registration bodies to fast-track current international and domestic student nurse registrations.

SCU in talks to fast-track student nurse registrations

SOUTHERN Cross University is working with accreditation and registration bodies to fast-track current international and domestic student nurse registrations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This includes final year undergraduate nursing students, with the university in talks with locals hospitals to prioritise clinical placement hours for third-year students to ensure they meet registration requirements as soon as possible.

"We are supporting these students who may experience front line COVID-19 response while on their current clinical placements and during their nursing degrees," Acting Head of the of the School of Health and Human Sciences, Professor Wendy Gilleard said.

"We are also in talks with the registration bodies to discuss the possibility of student nurses being supervised by teams of nurses rather than individual nurses while on placement, and also whether registered nurses working at the university may be required to join the work force to supervise students on placement - if so our team is ready to help."

This comes as the federal government announced it will relax international student nurse visa work conditions to provide workforce continuity for aged care facilities, home care providers and other health care workers.

There are currently around 20,000 international student nurses studying in Australia, and these changes will allow international student nurses and other aged care workers to work more than 40 hours a fortnight.

Southern Cross University currently offers the Graduate Certificate of Australian Nursing, also known as the Education Program for Internationally Qualified Nurses (EPIQ), which is designed for internationally qualified registered nurses who wish to practise as a registered nurse in Australia.

The on-campus EPIQ program is now offering the theoretical component completely online, with 76 students in their final fortnight of clinical placement who will then be eligible for registration and work-ready.

More than half of the internationally-qualified nurses who are enrolled in the April cohort are already onshore and will begin the 15-week course online as planned, with additional places still available for onshore internationally accredited nurses to qualify for Australian working registration.

Professor Gilleard said 270 internationally accredited nurses went through the program in 2019 with 70 per cent now working in the Australian healthcare system, while 30 per cent returned to their home countries with the additional qualification.