Valuing our primary health care nurses: APNA Workforce Survey 2018 supported by Health Professionals Bank features in MJA InSight

Read full MJA InSight article here

One-in-four Australian primary health care nurses say they are under-utilised and could be doing more to maximise their skillset was reported in MJA InSight.1

The article was based on findings by the APNA Workforce Survey 2018 supported by Health Professionals Bank. The survey, with over 2,052 primary health care nurse respondents, reveals that nearly 50% who suggested to their employer they could undertake more complex clinical activities, less than half were permitted to do so.2

According to APNA President Karen Booth nurses and midwives utilised to their full potential can promote good health, wellbeing and equitable access to health services for themselves, their colleagues and the broader community.

“Having primary health care nurses working to their full scope of practice as part of an interdisciplinary team can enable more integrated, efficient and accessible healthcare for all Australians,” Karen said. 

Nurses and midwives represent Australia’s largest, single healthcare profession comprising approximately 400,000 nurses, 27,045 nurse midwives and 5,141 midwives.3.4 Yet our nation is facing a potential nursing shortage with the departure and retirement of the existing nursing workforce, poor retention rates and population health trends.5                                                      

“There is currently no clear professional pathway for nurses in primary health care, noting 64% of our survey respondents lacked a written professional development plan,”2 said Karen.                                                                                                                                         

“Furthermore, 44% of the respondents reported feeling isolated, or lacking the necessary support from their colleagues to optimally perform their roles.2 This may be further compounded by a reduction in formal career planning and support.

“While the recent development by APNA of a Career and Education Framework for Nurses in Primary Health Care has set the groundwork for better recognition, impactful change is yet to come,” she said.

Release of the findings coincides with the launch of Health Professionals Bank today—Australia’s first and only bank dedicated exclusively to nurses, midwives, healthcare professionals and their families.

General Manager of Health Professionals Bank, Carolyn Murphy said there needs to be a change in employer’s perception of nurses’ value, and greater recognition of their contribution to patient care, team sustainability and the healthcare industry more broadly.

“Nurses are Australia’s unsung heroes and work tirelessly to provide the best quality patient care for our community. The nursing profession is highly skilled and ready to tackle Australia’s healthcare challenges, so it’s vital nurses and midwives are enabled to reach their full potential at work.

“As the backbone of the healthcare industry, nurses represent more than 60% of the healthcare workforce.2,3 A strong nursing workforce will help to ensure high quality, accessible and affordable primary health care provision for all members of our community,” said Ms Murphy.


  1. Booth. K. 2019. Valuing our primary health care nurses. MJA Insight. Available at: TBC [Last accessed March 11, 2019].
  2. APNA/Health Professionals Bank Workforce Survey. (2018). For primary health care nurses.
  3. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Snapshot of nursing in Australia. Available at: [Last accessed March 2019].
  4. Health Workforce Australia, Australia’s Future Health Workforce – Nurses. Available at:$File/AFHW%20-%20Nurses%20detailed%20report.pdf [Last accessed March 2019].
  5. Holland PJ, Tham TL, & Gill FJ. (2018). What nurses and midwives want: Findings from the national survey on workplace.


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