Graduates from a diverse range of disciplines who have had a change of heart and would now like to pursue a career in nursing are lining up to register interest in a brand new UWA course that will give them a Masters degree.
The Master of Nursing Science (Entry-to-Practice) enables people to switch career paths without having to do another undergraduate degree. It will lead toregistration as a Registered Nurse, pending accreditation of the course by the Nurses and Midwives Board of WA.
Moreover, 50 Federally-supported nursing places have been awarded to UWA for this course so students can pursue the degree without having to pay fees up front.
The places are along similar lines to HECS places, in that students repay the fees at the end of the degree, once they start earning a wage.
The association with the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, which supports an evidence-based, research-informed approach to clinical practice, is deemed another benefit.
The course will be conducted by the School of Population Health in partnership with Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.
Professor Judith Finn, Chair in Nursing Research in the School of Population Health, said there had been 102 expressions of interest in the course, which will start in July.
The first round of applications have just opened, with the second round to follow in May/June.
The degree follows two other innovative degrees introduced by the Faculty in the SPH last year. They are postgraduate degrees for nurses - the Master of Public Health (Nursing), a specialised coursework program within the Master of Public Health, and the research-based Master of Nursing Research, which includes a research thesis and core units in research methods.
The new nursing course has been introduced because of the desperate shortage of nurses nationally and worldwide, which is likely to increase in the future, with population growth and the ageing population.
“This offers another avenue into nursing,” Professor Finn said. “Historically anyone with a degree who wanted to be a nurse would have to go back and do another Bachelor’s degree. This offers people an opportunity to get a Master’s degree as well as registration as a nurse.”
The curriculum has been modelled on the Melbourne University Master of Nursing Science, which is now in its second year of running. “Talking to Melbourne University, they have graduates from science but also from humanities, business, accounting (undertaking the nursing degree),”Professor Finn said.
“There is sometimes a misconception that you have to have a science undergraduate degree but they have actually found a better indicator is how well the students did in their undergraduate degree, not what they did.”
The two-year full-time degree is quite intensive and comprehensive. There are clinical placements in the summer and winter university breaks. There are 800 hours of clinical practice, which is the requirement of the Nurses and Midwives Board of WA.
Professor Finn said most of the clinical practice, including general, medical, surgical, acute care and aged care nursing, would be at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. “It is something we see as a plus because most of the other university nursing courses are traditionally practised in lots of different hospitals and students don’t get a sense of belonging to any particular organisation,” she said.
There had been an increasing recognition that the range of nursing experiences could be gained in a single hospital, which gave the students a more consolidated clinical training.
However, students would need to go to Princess Margaret Hospital or Fremantle Hospital for child health placement and to Graylands Hospital for their mental health placement, she said.
They would also have three weeks of rural training, which would be run by the School of Primary, Aboriginal and Rural Health Care.
Registered nurses can work in a range of specialties including intensive care, paediatrics, theatre nursing, community nursing, health promotion, medical specialty nursing, surgical specialty nursing, aged care, remote community nursing, and nursing research.
-By Cathy Saunders