International Nurses Day: Our Nurses, Our Future

Nurses make up 50 per cent of Australia’s healthcare workforce and are an essential part of the healthcare team. The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on the critical role of nurses and the extraordinary challenges they faced in providing care and support to patients and their families. On International Nurses Day 2023, the ‘Our Nurses. Our Future’ campaign further shines a light on nurses, moving them from invisible to invaluable in the eyes of policy makers, the public, and all those who make decisions affecting the delivery and financing of healthcare. Learning the lessons of the pandemic and translating these into actions will ensure that our nurses are protected, respected and valued now and into the future.

To mark the day, we asked our future nurses, some of our first-year nursing students at Monash, why they chose to study nursing. Here’s what they had to say:

Amy Eva
“I’m already working as a phlebotomist, and I was looking to build on my knowledge and take the next step in my career, so I chose nursing.”

Ashleigh Hart
“Through my own personal experience in healthcare and with nurses, I decided that I wanted to carry on giving the care and consideration that I had received by becoming a nurse myself.” – Ashleigh Hart

Ashlyn Mayes
“I chose to study nursing and midwifery as I enjoy helping people and aspire to care for them when they are at their most vulnerable.”

Bailey Sullivan
“I want to work in healthcare and hospitals and have a real interest in helping people. The opportunities nursing will afford me in my future career is great and know I can develop in so many different directions.”

Keely Smith
“I chose nursing and midwifery because I wanted to support and empower people in their healthcare journey.”

KIea Lilo
“When I was in hospital, nurses were the health professionals I interacted with the most. I saw them day and night and they made me feel comfortable, safe and seen. I was in year 7 at the time and decided then that being a nurse was my goal.”

We also asked academics from our School of Nursing and Midwifery their views on a variety of nursing-related topics. Here’s what they had to say:

Associate Professor Helen Rawson

Deputy Head of School, Monash School of Nursing and Midwifery.

“Nurses are critical for safe and high quality care in aged care settings. They are experts in critical thinking, decision making, coordination and escalation. Nurses coordinate the care for people in aged care settings in collaboration with people receiving care, their family members or care partners and other healthcare professionals, and oversee all aspects of care provided by aged care workers. If we want safe and high quality care for older people, we need nurses leading, planning, coordinating and providing care.

Never 'just a nurse'. Nurses are highly skilled, trained and educated healthcare professionals. As the largest group of health professionals, they are vital for every healthcare system, everywhere. Nurses must be everywhere where decisions are being made about healthcare. They are leaders; leading care at the bedside, leading education, leading research, leading policy.”

Associate Professor Philip Russo

Director of Research - Monash School or Nursing and Midwifery, Director of Nursing Research - Cabrini Health, Immediate Past President - Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control.

“As we all know, nurses were at the forefront in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses worked tirelessly in all types of healthcare, residential, community and primary facilities to protect their patients and clients from COVID-19. The pandemic has further highlighted the crucial role nurses play in preventing healthcare associated infections.

Nurses play a leadership role in developing and implementing infection control programs, policies and education. They also have an important role in antimicrobial stewardship to promote responsible use of antimicrobials and reduce antimicrobial resistance, in surveillance and monitoring of infections and patient education and research.”

Read more of Associate Professor Russo’s commentary at Monash Lens

Professor Elizabeth Manias

Registered nurse and pharmacist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the Australian College of Nursing, Medication Management Review (MMR) Accredited Pharmacist, Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist.

"Nurses have an important responsibility in medication management. They are usually the last person to check that medication has been correctly supplied, prescribed and administered.

Due to their constant presence in health care settings, nurses monitor medication therapy accurately and regularly, to ensure benefits are achieved while minimising unwanted effects. Nurses are highly skilled critical thinkers who play an important role in patient-centred care and patient engagement."

Associate Professor Zerina Tomkins

Registered nurse, advocate for climate change mitigation and adaptation to protect planetary health, Research Lead for Climate Change and Sustainable Healthcare at Monash School of Nursing and Midwifery.

“As the impacts of climate change continue to worsen, it is crucial to prioritise the health and well-being of pregnant women, mothers and children. By participating in urgent action to mitigate climate change and build climate resilience, nurses can ensure that pregnant women, mothers and children have access to safe and healthy environments, adequate nutrition, quality healthcare and a healthier future.

“Nursing care is oriented toward the socio-environmental model, prevention, and a holistic view of health. Our willingness and ability to advocate for climate action will have direct and indirect impacts on the health of individuals and communities and maintaining environmentally sustainable, climate resilient health care services.

“Collaboration between health and environmental agencies, as well as community engagement, is crucial in building climate resilience in the healthcare sector. Consider nurses as knowledge brokers of the healthcare systems - get them to help achieve climate-resilient systems.”

Read more of Associate Professor Tomkins’ commentary at Monash Lens and our news.

Vanessa Clothier

Nurse Practitioner, Master of Advanced Clinical Nursing - Nurse Practitioner specialisation Course Coordinator, Monash School of Nursing and Midwifery, and Australian College of Nurse Practitioners - Victorian Chapter Chair.

"Nurse Practitioners are advanced senior clinicians that have expanded their clinical practice as well as their academic qualifications to holistically care for patients/clients autonomously within a collaborative model.

Advanced Nursing practice is not always defined by a role but rather, a consideration of the person’s clinical expertise as well as their influence in research, leadership and the supporting of systems.

Nurse Practitioners in Australia comprise less than one per cent of all nurses. These advanced clinicians are being under-utilised in a healthcare environment that is heaving under its own weight. Why is that?”

Interested in studying Nursing at Monash? The Bachelor of Nursing degree trains you to become a registered nurse in 3 years. Through our accredited nursing course, you’ll gain the knowledge, clinical skills and placement experience to provide high-quality nursing care and make a difference to your patients. Find out more

The Master of Advanced Clinical Nursing, offered by Nursing and Midwifery, prepares nurses for leadership roles in a clinical specialisation. Find out more

The Master of Advanced Nursing prepares nurses and midwives for leadership roles in management, education, disaster management and leadership, trauma nursing and advanced midwifery. Find out more

About Monash University

Monash University is Australia’s largest university with more than 80,000 students. In the 60 years since its foundation, it has developed a reputation for world-leading high-impact research, quality teaching, and inspiring innovation.

With four campuses in Australia and a presence in Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia and Italy, it is one of the most internationalised Australian universities.

As a leading international medical research university with the largest medical faculty in Australia and integration with leading Australian teaching hospitals, we consistently rank in the top 50 universities worldwide for clinical, pre-clinical and health sciences.

For more news, visit Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences or Monash University.