Education Equals Opportunities

By Adriana Rehbein
Monday, 11 February, 2013

Furthering your own nursing career is the first step in enhancing our profession, says Kate Gray, from the Royal College of Nursing Australia.
Furthering your own nursing career is the first step in enhancing our profession. This comes through learning – education and mentorship – and participation – being part of a group that is moving in the right direction. Education is a crucial element in the productivity and employability of our workforce.
In 2008, there were over 29,000 nurses in Australia employed in a primary health care setting. Of these, 10,194 worked in general practice, 14,868 in community health, with the rest working in areas such as school nursing and occupational health (AIHW, 2010). With expanding models of care, including programs such as hospital in the home, acute/post-acute care and the advent of GP super clinics, nurses working in primary health care need advanced knowledge and the ability to work autonomously. Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is in the process of developing a Graduate Certificate in Nursing Practice, which aims to provide for this growing need.
In 2006, the National Specialisation Framework for Nursing and Midwifery identified oncology and haematology as areas of specialist nursing practice, yet undergraduate preparation for nurses caring for patients with cancer is minimal, according to the National Nursing and Education Taskforce N3ET (2006). In response to this, ACN’s Graduate Certificate in Cancer
Nursing provides nurses with an opportunity to acquire specialist knowledge and skills for improving and developing their clinical practice in various areas of cancer nursing.
These courses, along with other ACN graduate certificates and single subjects, are delivered through distance and e-learning programs.
ACN recognises the importance of ongoing professional development in enabling nurses to deliver quality patient care and advance their
practice and career.
All nurses and midwives must meet continuing professional development (CPD) standards set by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). This standard sets out a minimum requirement of 20 CPD hours, as part of the annual renewal of authority to practice.
ACN meets this need with a range of CPD courses for nurses at any stage of their career. The clinical courses are co-developed with industry partners, focussing on career pathways, leading to a high level of engagement and competition.
In order to help nurses in managing their professional development, ACN developed the online lifelong learning program, 3LP. It brings together access to e-learning activities, quality research materials and tools for recording your CPD. With 3LP, it is simple to plan, implement, document and validate your CPD hours to meet annual registration requirements, communicate with colleagues and further develop your nursing career.
The vision for the Emerging Nurse Leader (ENL) program came from many years of discussion and feedback from senior leaders within the profession. These conversations conveyed to ACN that there are many experienced, senior nurse leaders projected to retire over the next decade. Furthermore, generational experts articulate that there are high numbers of early career nurses leaving the profession.
The ENL program looks to address these workforce issues by creating a platform that recognises potential, and assists in cultivation of future leaders. It is a five-year, fully-funded program that provides up-and-coming nurse leaders with a unique opportunity to develop leadership skills that can be applied throughout their nursing careers.
There is a growing market for ACN’s Assessment of Competence program, with 210 nurses completing the program last financial year. The course is designed for nurses who have not practiced for between five to ten years and wish to be assessed against the national competency standards in order to re-enter the workforce. It is a 300 hour course equally divided into a face-to-face theory component and professional experience placement.
The Assessment of Competence course will run at least six times next year, starting in late January 2013. There are currently 329 hopeful students on the waiting list, including those with overseas qualifications wishing to be registered to practice in Australia.
For more information on any of ACN’s courses, go to or contact the Student Services Centre on 1800 COLLEGE (26 55 343) or email If you are an undergraduate nursing student interested in the ENL program, go to

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