Aussie nurses ready to call it quits

They’re highly valued in the function of society, but Australia’s nurses and midwives are saying they have had enough. A

They’re highly valued in the function of society, but Australia’s nurses and midwives are saying they have had enough.

A national survey of around 3,000 nurses and midwives conduced by the Monash Business School has revealed that one-third were giving serious consideration to throwing in the towel and walking away from the profession.

They cite being overworked and undervalued as the primary reasons why they wanted to leave the profession.

Increasing work demands on your nursing professionals was first brought to the fore in 2011 with the first survey. Since, the situation has worsened and 71 per cent of those participating in this year’s study said they felt they had more work on their plates than they felt they could do well; a 7 per cent increase since 2013.

The figures are particularly alarming because experts believe Australia is set for a shortfall in nursing staff in the coming decade.

Speaking to they Sydney Morning Herald, Catherine Taylor says she left the nursing profession in April because it had become “too dangerous”.

Working in the acute mental health care unit of a south-west Sydney hospital, Taylor says, “I felt we were getting a lot of new graduates who were inexperienced and undergraduates who have done a week’s mental health training.

“This led to inexperienced staff dealing with highly psychotic patients who would either escalate the situation or not know how to handle it and not report a patient who was suicidal because they didn’t want to appear incompetent.”

The situation is not limited to mental health nurses either.

The report highlights a lack of support for flexible work arrangements, a failure of management to adequately handle incidents of physical, verbal and sexual harassment, inadequate staff levels and excessive administrative tasks, as well as an inadequate mix of skills experience.

You could assume that such circumstances, if they come to a head, will have a negative impact on the quality of healthcare you receive and with an ageing population and increasing chronic disease the alarm bells should well and truly be ringing.

The question is, who’s going to answer that call?

Have you worked as a nurse or midwife? What are your experiences? What do you think of this survey highlighting the pressures faced by your medical professionals?

  1. I agree. After 35 years as a mental health nurse I have had enough and am retiring soon. A few years ago I was happy to work on into my 70s, but the increase of drug use and aggression, plus lack of support from administration and inappropriate skill mix on wards leaves me wishing my life away till I retire and get the hell outa there! I know a lot of older, experienced staff are feeling the same.

  2. val allan  

    As a retired nurse aged 73, having a long list of ‘co-morbidities’, that are rare and debilitating and progressive it scares me witless to think of under experienced nurses or even inadequately trained staff in care of my needs in the future. I have always been of the opinion that only trained Nurses Grade 1/2 ought to be employed to look after the requirements of elderly residents in hostels/nursing homes. Accreditation has done little to raise many standards as the inspectors go regularly to those that do well and are easy to audit giving the difficult and often private providers more time or ignoring altogether. They ought be answerable for the jobs they do as well as health facilities. The elderly nursing needs are far more complex than those found in many areas of segregated expertise in large hospitals and this also requires well trained staff with good mentors for the newly trained, in order for them to develop the instinctive sense that good nurses have.

  3. [email protected]  

    If the funding for nursing was spent on nursing, we could have more staff and less burn out. I worked in a 40 bed Nursing Home for a while. I was the RN on the floor with an Enrolled nurse, we each gave out drugs for 20 people but I was also responsible for transfers to hospital [phone the family, Director of Care, doctor and do the paper work, including every contact I’d made and it’s outcome], organising the processes when someone died [phone the family, doctor, Director of Care, funeral Home, Pastor and so the paper work …oh and sympathise/make tea/discuss last moments with the family if they wanted to come in. Aggression, calm staff, [call the Director of care, the police, the families of the hitter or hittee and do the paperwork to document every contact I’d made and the outcomes] readmit returnees from hospital, they never got home until after tea then. In addition I was to lock the place up at a particular time and sign it off, do 3 medication rounds on my shift, attend to any dressings, ointments, respiratory process, finish a daily report on most of my residents. Attend to falls [phone the family, doctor, Director of Care, Pastor and do the paper-work to document every contact I’d made and the outcomes] Take and respond to all incoming phone calls.
    Those were MY duties.
    At the same time I had a [1] Director of Care [2] a Nurse Manager, [3] a clinical Nurse, [4] a Registered Nurse Occupational Health Officer [5] a receptionist to take and respond to all incoming calls [6] a reg, Nurse and an [7] Enrolled Nurse to attend to funding documentation. None of these people were required to attend to care, they made and organised our tasks, how those tasks were to be done and had long lunches and morning teas while they discussed their needs for new paintings, redecorating or new technology equipment they could get to lighten their load.
    I couldn’t get funding for 2 large toilet/shower chairs! i was subjected to work place bullying and failed at preventing other carers being bullied.
    Welcome to the REAL WORLD OF NURSING. No one cares because we are over worked. We are not paid to care, we are paid to provide care, I learnt at a lecture.
    We have shortages in equipment, dressings, continence aides, and STAFF but we have administrators with top of the range company cars, phones, computers, paid lunches and seminars.
    I LOVED my chosen career but after 42 years of a constant down hill slide for the staff on the floor while the bosses received increasingly better conditions as they got to the budgets first, watching university trained staff struggle to comprehend how a university graduate was expected to clean vomit, blood and faeces [for goodness sake!] I had to walk away from Nursing. God help the patients and those who need care in the future. God help the Nurses who somehow find the dedication to stay, they, the Police and our Teachers are the least valued and protected Government workers and shame on the Government to treat them as if they have no value. The truth is not in what is said, the truth is how our politicians abuse the best of us.

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