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Why Further Study Could Be Pivotal for Agency Nurses in 2021

Posted 5 months ago

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Can you confidently assist medical staff in obtaining an airway for a patient who is struggling to maintain their own? Can you operate a ventilator and make alterations based on arterial blood gas levels? And can you take control of a defibrillator during a cardiac arrest, making the life altering decision to shock or not shock based on a wave form? As a critical care agency nurse you can probably do most if not all of the above and that’s why you’re in demand right now. Patients suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19 are a high risk group requiring specialised care. So it’s a good time to start asking yourself, should I go back to university and study critical care nursing?

COVID - 19 Demands Critical Care Trained Staff

It’s no secret that agency nurses trained in critical care areas like ICU, Emergency, step-down, cardiac care and theater are highly sought after. However, 2020 highlighted this fact. You only need to turn on the news or scroll through your social media feed to see hospitals, clinics and even make-shift field hospitals overflowing with patients requiring breathing and ventilatory support. 

These images make me thankful to live in a country where our leaders are enforcing rules which are saving lives, but it doesn’t make the Australian public immune. Innocent people are still being haunted by the virus and will continue to whilst we patiently wait for a vaccine. We as agency nurses have the power and potential know-how to assist them - but we need the training first. 

Is going back to school right for me?

Though the demand for critically cared trained nurses is high, it doesn’t mean you will no longer be allocated to your requested shifts if you don’t commit to future studies. Theaters are still running with non urgent cases, car accidents and sports injuries are unfortunately still happening and those suffering from a stroke or heart attack still need diligent care on the wards and in community rehab. There is still so much agency work on offer outside of the COVID presentations. However, if reading this article is stirring something inside you, motivating you to hit the books again, the following questions are well worth considering;

  • Ask yourself why: What outcome do I want to achieve from post graduate study? Why do I want to study in the first place?

  • Finance: Can I afford the cost of the course? Are there any scholarships I can apply for? Are payment plans available? (Remember you can claim work related study on tax and potentially through your smart salary provider).

  • Time: Do I have the time to study full / part time among my other commitments (kids, second job, spouse job / study) Can I study part time? Can I receive credits for what I have done previously? If time is an issue, don’t forget that agency work gives you the freedom to choose when you work which is perfect if you’re also studying. 

  • Job opportunity: Do I need to be part of a structured program to complete formal postgraduate studies? Will my current employer support my studies? Do I simply want to complete a series of short courses rather than a full university degree / certificate?

  • Location: Is the course run online or do I physically need to travel?

  • Future: Where do I want to work in the future? 

  • Continued Professional Development (CPD) points: How many CPD points are linked to the course? Remember enrolled and registered nurses and also midwives need to complete a minimum of CPD hours in order to remain registered. See this link via the AHPRA website for more details.

If you are looking for a great place to start exploring future course options, the Australian Healthcare Academy (AHA) offers a range of courses for the beginner to the advanced nurse which will significantly boost not only your confidence but also your resume. Nursing Agencies like VNS get very excited when they see a AHA trained nurse because they know the course is comprehensive, professional and beneficial. To check out their range of excellent courses, click here

In summary, patients suspected of COVID-19 requiring specialised care, particularly respiratory support, are going to continue to enter the doors of Emergency Departments around the country until we have a vaccine. If you’ve been looking to extend your nursing resume, increase your chances of securing more shifts with your nursing agency and make a few extra dollars, this could be the perfect motivator you’ve been looking for. 


Emma Smith

Registered Nurse 

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