1 in 4 nurses under-utilised

Tuesday, 12 March, 2019

1 in 4 nurses under-utilised

A new survey of Australian primary healthcare nurses has revealed that many feel they are under-utilised and could be making a greater contribution.

The APNA/Health Professionals Bank Workforce Survey involving 2052 primary healthcare nurse respondents found that 1 in 4 felt they were not only under-utilised but could be doing more to maximise their skillset.1

Published in MJA Insight, the survey also revealed that of the nearly 50% who suggested to their employer they could undertake more complex clinical activities, less than half were permitted to do so.2

The survey findings have been released to coincide with the launch of Health Professionals Bank — dedicated exclusively to nurses, midwives, healthcare professionals and their families.

Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) President Karen Booth, Sydney, said nurses and midwives utilised to their full potential can promote good health, wellbeing and equitable access to health services for themselves, their colleagues and the broader community.

“Having primary healthcare nurses working to their full scope of practice as part of an interdisciplinary team can enable more integrated, efficient and accessible health care for all Australians,” Booth said.

Nurses and midwives represent Australia’s largest, single healthcare profession comprising approximately 400,000 nurses, 27,045 nurse midwives and 5141 midwives.3,4 Yet our nation is facing a potential nursing shortage with the departure and retirement of the existing nursing workforce, poor retention rates and population health trends.5

“Nurses are Australia’s unsung heroes and work tirelessly to provide the best quality patient care for our community. The nursing profession is highly skilled and ready to tackle Australia’s healthcare challenges, so it’s vital nurses and midwives are enabled to reach their full potential at work,” said the General Manager of Health Professionals Bank, Carolyn Murphy, Melbourne.

“There is currently no clear professional pathway for nurses in primary health care, noting 64% of our survey respondents lacked a written professional development plan2,” Booth said. “Furthermore, 44% of the respondents reported feeling isolated, or lacking the necessary support from their colleagues to optimally perform their roles.2 This may be further compounded by a reduction in formal career planning and support.”

Health Professionals Bank takes into account the unique features of this key workforce, such as their penalty rates and public service salary packaging arrangements. As an alternative to the big four banks, customer-owned Health Professionals Bank is part of Teachers Mutual Bank Limited, one of Australia’s largest mutual banks.

It will focus on socially and environmentally sustainable banking, re-investing profits to provide competitive products and services, and benefit the community.

If you’re a nurse, midwife or healthcare professional wishing to join Health Professionals Bank or to learn more, visit www.hpbank.com.au


1. Booth. K. 2019. Valuing our primary health care nurses. MJA Insight, March 11, 2019.

2. APNA/Health Professionals Bank Workforce Survey. (2018). For primary health care nurses.

3. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Snapshot of nursing in Australia. Available at: http://anf.org.au/documents/reports/Fact_Sheet_Snap_Shot_Nursing.pdf [Last accessed March 2019].

4. Health Workforce Australia, Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Nurses. Available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/34AA7E6FDB8C16AACA257D9500112F25/$File/AFHW%20- %20Nurses%20detailed%20report.pdf [Last accessed March 2019].

5. Holland PJ, Tham TL, & Gill FJ. (2018). What nurses and midwives want: Findings from the national survey on workplace.

6. Roy Morgan Image of Professions Survey 2017. Available at: http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/7244-roy-morgan-image-ofprofessions-may-2017-201706051543 Last accessed February 2019.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Syda Productions

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