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New investment made for WA's nurses and midwives

12 July, 2007

The Department of Health has awarded more than $1.24million in nursing and midwifery scholarships to help attract and retain nurses and midwives in Western Australia’s public health system.

Department of Health Chief Nursing Officer Dr Phill Della said 506 postgraduate and undergraduate nursing scholarships had been offered this year.

“We recognise the vital services nurses provide in our community and we are committed to encouraging the training and development of this role within our State’s health system,” Dr Della said.

“The Nursing and Midwifery Scholarship Support Scheme was established in 1980 and each year we continue to increase the number of scholarships awarded, with the number of scholarships in 2007 up by 35 places from 2006.” 

Scholarships are being offered in areas such as midwifery and clinical specialisation, and for courses to allow enrolled nurses to become registered nurses. 

“The scholarships not only offer support through financial assistance but also provide nurses and midwives with an opportunity to further their skills through additional academic qualifications and experience,” Dr Della said.

Bibra Lake registered midwife Kelly Prandl was awarded the $15,000 Midwifery Fellow scholarship for 2007 to review antenatal care for Indigenous women and help develop the Boodjari Yorgas Antenatal Clinic for Indigenous women at the Armadale Health Service. 

“Attendance at antenatal clinics by Aboriginal women is often sporadic which leaves a population of women that already is at higher risk of adverse outcomes receiving little or no antenatal care during their pregnancy,” Prandl said.

“I hope my review will provide a better practice model of antenatal care provision and have a positive impact on perinatal outcomes for Indigenous women.”

Thanks to the scholarship scheme, next month Prandl will travel to Alice Springs, New South Wales and South Australia to see programs that may be relevant to Aboriginal women in Western Australia.

“I hope to learn from other models of care being applied in Indigenous populations and look at how we can make services more culturally sensitive,” she said.

“Being able to work towards outcomes that will make a difference in an area like Aboriginal health is really rewarding, and to receive the scholarship to contribute to this area is a huge boost.”

Funding for other nursing scholarships in 2007 has been allocated to the following areas:

- $794,000 for postgraduate clinical specialisation and midwifery scholarships;
- $390,000 for undergraduate scholarships to assist enrolled nurses to become registered nurses;
- $40,000 for Indigenous scholarships.

Dr Della said that the scholarships were just one of the many strategies being carried out by WA Health to help attract and retain nursing and midwifery staff.

“We have looked at a number of ways we can improve the working conditions of existing nurses and midwives and also strategies to entice more nurses and midwives to Western Australia,” he said.

These include overseas recruitment initiatives which have seen more than 70 registered nurses and midwives recruited to the state since 2005 and a new pilot program which offers high school students a one-week placement in public hospitals to get first hand experience in nursing.

“By providing a high level of support through opportunities to refresh and up-skill nurses in WA Health we will ensure that patients in our hospitals continue to receive the best level of care from highly trained staff,” Dr Della said.

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