Regional nurses to upskill for free

La Trobe’s Rural Health School is offering free places for registered nurses to build skills specific to rural nursing at a time of acute skills shortages in rural healthcare.

Enrolments are now open for the Professional Certificate in Rural Nursing Practice, which is designed to retain and strengthen the rural nursing workforce, as part of the Australian Government’s Micro-Credential Pilot Program.

The certificate includes five micro-credentials to meet the needs of rural nurses, including in digital health and assessments for rural paediatric, adult, and older patients.

Associate Professor in Rural Nursing, Dr Melissa Deacon-Crouch, said rural nurses often find their education does not fully prepare them for the unique demands and leadership of rural nursing.

“These programs are designed to equip registered nurses with the tools, skills and confidence to thrive in their roles and make a real difference to rural health,” Dr Deacon-Crouch said.

Professor Jane Mills, Dean of La Trobe’s Rural Health School, said the role of the rural nurse merits a standalone certificate.

“With the shortages of GPs across many parts of regional Australia, nurses carry much of their communities’ healthcare burden,” Professor Mills said.

“They often work in relative isolation and are expected to be the masters of all trades, looking after everything from physical trauma to mental health.”

Nurses can complete the certificate online at their own pace to allow flexibility with work, life, and family commitment.

Completion of the certificate can lead to advanced standing in a Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma of Rural Nursing Practice and supports a pathway to Nurse Practitioner.

There are currently 20 free places available for commencement in 2024. Rural and regional nurses who miss out on a fully funded place may be eligible for a discounted rate (70%) of $1485 for the Professional Certificate.

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