Surge workforce

Page Last Updated 14 May 2021 4:17pm

Health service providers may approach you or put out a call for students to join the health surge workforce. If this happens, it's your choice if you would like to join.

You can apply directly with each health service or other provider that you are interested in working for. These are paid casual positions, therefore it is critical that you sign an employment contract with any health service provider that you wish to work for.

As a Monash student, remember, your current or upcoming clinical placements are the priority.  If you have any questions about the health surge workforce that aren’t covered below, please contact us on fmnhs_covid@monash.edu


Students administering the COVID-19 vaccine

In line with current health advice, the University strongly recommends and encourages participation in the national COVID-19 vaccination programs by all health students (including allied health and pharmacy) undertaking placement, unless medically contradicted.

Vaccination is a crucial part of the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As students, you may be approached by health service providers, or individually seek paid or voluntary opportunities to participate in administering COVID-19 vaccines. Managing paid/volunteer work and study commitments can be tricky at times and we urge you to take this into consideration when applying to join the surge workforce. Special consideration (for your course attendance or assessments) would not be given in the event that your studies were adversely affected by surge workforce commitments.

Please note, students who wish to participate in activity related to the administration of COVID-19 vaccines must do so as an independent citizen, whether paid or voluntary, and under the direct supervision and authority of a health service provider. Importantly, you may not take part in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines or associated training and activities  as part of your placement as a Monash student. (Note: This does not apply to pharmacy students undertaking placements in fourth year, who will be involved in some aspects of the preparation of the COVID-19 vaccination, in accordance with direction from the Pharmacy Student Experiential Placements Team.)

AHPRA and National Boards have also issued a joint statement to registered health practitioners and students to aid in your understanding of what’s expected of you when giving, receiving, advising on, and sharing information about COVID-19 vaccines. You can view the statement published on 9 March, 2021 on the AHPRA website.

We encourage you to review all the information on our below when considering independent opportunities with health care providers, including paid or voluntary work.

Prioritise your study and placement

You’ll need to prioritise your study and clinical placements commitments. If a clinical placement becomes available, you will be expected to take it up. It is up to you to manage your workload and communicate this with your supervisor at the health service provider.

Positions in quarantine hotels and/or ports of entry

Working in quarantine hotels and ports of entry currently represents a significantly higher risk of infection with the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) than many other surge workforce settings.

It is the advice of the Victorian Department of Health that you should not undertake a clinical placement at a health service or residential care facility if you have undertaken a placement, worked at or volunteered at a hotel quarantine site and/or other port of entry within the last 14 days.

If you have been recruited to work in quarantine hotels or ports of entry please inform your placement provider. We also encourage you to disclose any work in hotel quarantine to your course coordinators so that they can support you and advise on any potential impact on course progression due to your exclusion from placement.

Please keep in mind that surge workforce roles do not currently count towards your clinical placement requirements. This may change, so you should consider taking roles that best align with your discipline of study, and/or those which would offer the most diverse learning for your future practice.

Students may seek advice about the appropriateness of the duration and nature of their surge workforce position with their Monash University clinical supervisor or placement coordinator.

Before you apply

Please go through the checklist below before applying for a position and starting work. This checklist serves as a guide so consider your own circumstances, such as health, study, existing clinical placement commitments and visa conditions before applying.

Make sure that:

  • The position doesn’t conflict with your current or upcoming placements.
  • If you choose to apply, it is recommended that the position is at the same health service as your clinical placement to reduce the risks associated with travelling between different health settings.
  • The position is opt-in and you should not be pressured or coerced to do so. They are not mandatory or required as part of your degree.
  • Sign an employment contract with the respective health service. Check your contract carefully to make sure it provides adequate indemnity and insurance.
  • Undertake appropriate induction and training provided by your employer before you start work.
  • Make sure you understand your duties and scope of work, as this will vary depending on the position.
  • Make sure you are provided with appropriate supervision, working within your scope and understand your likely exposure to COVID-19 positive or suspected patients. If you feel unsafe, don’t be afraid to speak up.
  • If you are unsure about any of these points (except in regard to contract terms) - speak to your Monash University Unit or Placement Coordinator or email us at fmnhs_covid@monash.edu.
  • For medical students, please see the Australian Medical Association website Doctors in Training information.

Make sure you are clear about these before you accept.

Exposure to COVID-19

You should speak to your employer about the likelihood you will be expected to engage in activity with COVID-19 positive or suspected patients and/or patients’ rooms. Remember that you may also be unintentionally exposed in a health service environment. You should consider this risk before undertaking a surge workforce position.

If you are exposed, this may necessitate a period of social isolation for two weeks in line with Australian Government requirements which may interfere with your ability to participate in current or upcoming clinical placements as a part of your education.

Visa requirements

You will need to consider your individual visa requirements before applying for available opportunities.

The Commonwealth Government recently announced that they would relax international student nurse visa work conditions to provide workforce continuity for aged care facilities, home care providers and other health care workers. This will allow international nursing students and other aged care workers to work more than the 40 hours a fortnight that they are currently.

This measure may change over time, so make sure to stay updated. The form “Employer application for Student visa work restriction exemption” will soon be available on the Department of Home Affairs website.


Current opportunities

In addition to skills and payment, participating in the surge workforce is a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of patient care during a pandemic. Like your clinical placement, make sure to make the most of this experience.

We are aware of the following current opportunities:

Monash Health - Emergency Immuniser Worker (South East Public Health Unit)

Monash Health is calling for Paramedicine and Medicine Students to assist in the delivery of COVID-19 Vaccines as part of the Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Strategy.

Find out more

Monash Health - Administration Casual Workforce

Monash Health Bureau are looking for Administration staff to work at their Vaccination Clinics and Drive Throughs Screening Clinics located across the South East area. There is also the opportunity to work at the entrance of the major hospitals and community departments, screening staff and visitors on their arrival. You’ll be provided with training in using Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

Find out more


Volunteering

We understand many of our students may want to provide extra help to the health system during this time, as a volunteer. If you choose to provide this help, you must become a registered volunteer of the health service as an independent citizen.

You should not be volunteering in your role as a student of Monash University or as part of clinical placement.  If you choose to work in a volunteer position outside the scope of your clinical placement, this is a personal decision, and you will not be covered from an insurance or indemnity perspective by the University.

It is important that you become a registered volunteer of the health service to cover you in case of adverse events, such as injury. We encourage you to consider signing an agreement with the health service to ensure you are provided with appropriate indemnity cover, liability insurance and WorkCover protection.

Remember to prioritise your study and clinical placements commitments. It is up to you to manage your workload and communicate this with your supervisor at the volunteer organisation.

If you are offered a volunteer position, understand that:

  • It is your personal choice. You can only become a volunteer by opting-in and should not be pressured or coerced to do so.
  • It is recommended that the position is at the same health service as your clinical placement to reduce the risks associated with travelling between different health settings.
  • You will not be penalised for choosing not to take up these positions – it is completely optional.
  • There is no direct link between these positions and any assessment for academic progression, or future employment.
  • You should consider undertaking positions that best align to your usual placement, and those which would offer the most diverse learning for your future practice.
  • Students may seek advice about the appropriateness of the duration and nature of their volunteer position with their Monash University clinical supervisor or placement coordinator.