The Catholic Health Australia is seeking to tap the wanderlust in nurses and midwives and that way woo them to work in rural areas, many of which are not adequately served on that front.
The Nurse The Nation program launched in Canberra on Friday is designed to attract backpacking and retired nurses into the system to relieve the workforce shortage.
The nonprofit has also floated a new website for the purpose. Explore the nation, further your career and be of use to the community. Such is the message. Nurses from abroad too can pitch in.
Australia needs about 13,000 extra nurses. And a third of the current nursing workforce is close to retirement age.
Caroline Hudson, the brain behind the programme, told ABC News, 'It's difficult to attract nurses and midwives to the country and so this is one way. We are not actually asking everybody to have a sea change and leave and go live permanently in the country but this is one way for them to actually establish a workforce from a group of people who might be travelling through town for a month, a week, a few days, or whatever period they want. '
Rural hospitals in particular struggle to find full-time and specialised staff.
Kate Birrell, group director of Nursing for the St John of God Health Care, Victoria, said, ''Yes, it is very difficult to recruit specialist nurses in particular into those areas and highly skilled specialist nurses because it is remote and very often the people who have those skills, they want to be in the bigger units in the city.
''We would anticipate the programme gives them an experience they very much might really enjoy and perhaps go on to consider a longer term appointment....''
Details of the program can be found at www.nursethenation.com.au.
Nurses can visit the website to research their travels and register their details, which are forwarded to their selected participating hospital or aged-care facility.