The University of New England (UNE) has launched a more flexible Bachelor of Nursing degree which has the potential to better meet the needs of aged care staff wishing to upgrade their skills.

Students enrolled in the nursing degree at UNE from this year will be able to obtain an Advanced Diploma and work as an enrolled nurse (EN) after two years.

Under the new course arrangements, current ENs will be able to go straight into the second year of the course and study for two years to become registered nurses (RNs).

The revised course will have more a blended approach to learning in the second and third years. It can be taken on campus in Armidale or by correspondence.

UNE is also trialling an interview entry scheme for candidates who do not meet the usual requirements for a university education.

Course Coordinator Dr Penny Paliadelis said the new flexible arrangements could help to redress the shortage of registered nurses working in aged care.

“We hope this will capture people who don’t have the normal entry requirements for university,” she said.

“In particular, we think it will benefit many of the people working in aged care who might have a Certificate III from TAFE and a desire to continue their education.

“There are a lot of people who would make excellent RNs who may not get the opportunity to achieve that through the traditional methods of entering university.”

The announcement from UNE comes less than a month after a discussion paper from the National Health Workforce Taskforce revealed that only 200 of the 500 tertiary nursing places in Australia were taken up in 2008.

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