Realising the potential for Nursing and Midwifery

Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Professor (Practice), Alison McMillan, explored priorities for the nursing and midwifery professions in a lecture hosted by La Trobe Rural Health School and Bendigo Health

Around the table, as troubling news emerged from Wuhan, it wasn’t just Ministers and the Chief Health Officer deliberating next steps.

Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Professor (Practice) Alison McMillan was there, representing the largest healthcare workforce in the nation’s fastest growing and most in-demand sector.

Only months into the job, Alison played a key role in the nation’s pandemic response, including evacuating Australians from the Diamond Princess and responding to tragic COVID outbreaks in aged-care.

The experience galvanised Alison to improve the standing, impact and long-term sustainability of the nursing and midwifery professions – a central theme to her Bendigo public lecture on how to realise the potential of nurses and midwives.

Hosted by La Trobe Rural Health School and Bendigo Health on 27 October, the lecture outlined Alison’s vision and current priorities for the nursing and midwifery professions, many of which directly address the needs of rural nurses and midwives.

This included:

  • Advocacy to support nurses and midwives to work to their optimum scope of practice, allowing them to work to the best of their abilities. This particularly benefits rural and remote communities where reliance on registered nurses is high
  • Strengthening midwifery continuity of care models for mums and babies
  • The need for greater flexibility and innovation to attract and retain nurses, including through how we support students on placements entering the profession
  • Elevating aged-care nursing and strengthening pathways and supports in the sector.

“If you’ve met nurses working in a dementia unit in residential care, you’d know how complex their jobs are. They are heroes,” Alison said.

“We need to recognise that every part of the healthcare system is just as important as the other.”

Alison called on current and future nurses to engage with the Commonwealth on its first ever National Nursing Workforce Strategy by participating in consultations, including upcoming sessions in Bendigo and Melbourne.

“Listening is such an important part of making things better,” Alison said.

Alison closed with a call for nurses and midwives to be proud of their contribution to the healthcare.

“There’s never been a better time for our professions to shine, step forward and take a leadership role.”

La Trobe Bachelor of Nursing student Melissa Ford said Alison’s lecture was inspiring.

“Alison reminded us that nurses and midwives are more than healthcare providers; we are advocates who play an important role in shaping and improving the healthcare system for all Australians.”

Image courtesy of Bendigo Health. L-R: Associate Professor Lisa Hanson, Australia's Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer Professor (Practice) Alison McMillan, Bendigo Health Chief Nursing & Midwifery Carol-Anne Lever, Associate Professor Melissa Deacon-Crouch.