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Fast-track overseas nurses, midwives into Australian healthcare

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The assessment process for overseas trained nurses and midwives seeking entry into the Australian health workforce is set to become more efficient with the inauguration of a second facility dedicated to conducting examinations.

This move aims to expedite the registration process for overseas trained healthcare professionals and eliminate the need for them to travel to South Australia for assessments.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) have collaborated with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) to establish a purpose-built Assessment, Learning, and Examination Centre in Melbourne. The dedicated centre will now serve as a venue for evaluating the clinical skills of internationally qualified nurses and midwives.

With the launch of this new facility, the assessment process is expected to witness a significant boost in efficiency. Previously, healthcare professionals with relevant but non-equivalent qualifications had to undertake the Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) test in South Australia. The introduction of the Melbourne centre is anticipated to streamline the entry of skilled professionals into Australia’s health workforce.

In the past year, Ahpra and the NMBA registered 273 internationally qualified midwives and 11,188 internationally qualified nurses, marking a substantial increase of 127.5% and 148.1%, respectively. Recognising the growing number of healthcare practitioners aspiring to join the Australian workforce, the partnership between regulatory bodies and RANZCOG aims to facilitate more OSCEs per year. The centre’s capacity can be adjusted based on demand, leading to reduced wait times for candidates.

This collaboration aligns with a commitment made by Ahpra and the National Boards to the National Cabinet focused on developing options to streamline and expedite the recognition of health practitioners’ skills and qualifications. The establishment of a second examination site represents a tangible step towards achieving this goal.

Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey, Chair of NMBA, emphasised the significance of the second examination site in expanding the national health workforce safely. “Supporting the Australian health workforce with safe and capable internationally qualified nurses and midwives is one of the NMBA’s highest priorities. With the opening of RANZCOG’s facilities, we will be able to deliver more OSCEs more frequently, getting more internationally qualified nurses and midwives into the workforce sooner,” she said.

The RANZCOG Assessment, Learning, and Examination Centre is poised to conduct its inaugural round of OSCEs in early 2024, marking a crucial milestone in enhancing the efficiency of the assessment process for overseas trained nurses and midwives in Australia.

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