First nursing students placed in national aged care program

Commonwealth-funded project helps create the next generation of aged care nurses 

Media Release 28 June 2023 

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) has placed its first 76 student nurses into aged care placements as part of a new program to recruit nurses into the residential aged care sector.  

The students are part of a new Commonwealth-funded aged care student nurse placement program. Launching this month, the program will place about 140 students in its first month. 

APNA’s aged care student nurse placement program was launched to address recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and will ultimately help aged care providers meet the commitment for all aged care facilities to have Registered Nurses onsite and on duty 24 hours per day 7 days per week as of 1 July.  

The residential aged care sector will need an additional 14,000 nurses to meet this commitment. However, the Australian Department of Health and Aged Care has previously predicted a shortage of 85,000 nurses by 2025 and 123,000 nurses in Australia by 2030.   

APNA’s aged care placement program will help to create a new sustainable pipeline of nurses to help fill this shortage. The program has two components: 

  1. The delivery of high-quality clinical placement experiences in aged care for 1800 second- and third-year nursing students.  

  1. The development and hosting of an online aged care knowledge hub to provide all nursing students, clinical facilitators, and placement providers with resources to support quality placement experiences. 

Key features of APNA’s aged care placement program include: 

  • Direct supervision from an APNA-employed Registered Nurse clinical facilitator, to ensure minimal disruption to the existing aged care workforce and operations, and to provide clear direction and close supervision for students to enhance the placement experience for both students and the aged care teams. 

  • Support for higher-level nursing skill acquisition, including nursing leadership and care coordination, chronic disease management, complex care (wound management, enteral feeding, ostomy care, pain and medication management, palliation) and head-to-toe assessments (including neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, and urinary). 

  • APNA working collaboratively with universities to map their unique curriculum learning outcomes to the placement opportunity, to enable a broader scope of nursing practice and experience for students, rather than limiting to first-year students who usually enter aged care to practice basic nursing skills. This enables the opportunity to include chronic disease management and complex care, facilitating second- and third-year nursing student learning needs which is more aligned with the work of the registered nurse in the aged care sector.    

  • Access to best-practice Aged Care Nursing resources: APNA is developing an Aged Care Knowledge hub that will be freely available to anyone working in aged care across Australia. 

  • Opportunity to influence perceptions and career decisions about aged care: Exposing student nurses to a broader scope of nursing care beyond that available in traditional settings such as hospitals, encouraging them to consider a career in gerontology. 

APNA’s aged care placement program will accept applications for student placements until June 2024. For more information, please contact or go to


Quotes from APNA President Karen Booth 

“Great residential aged care needs great aged care nurses.  And that starts with giving nursing students a positive aged care placement during their studies. APNA’s aged care student nurse placement program is designed to bring through the next generation of qualified and experienced registered aged care nurses.”  

“APNA’s aged care student nurse placement program is unique in that it employs its own clinical nurse facilitators, supports higher-level clinical skills development, and provides customised student learning experiences to meet the requirements and curriculums of individual learning institutions. 

“Aged care nurses and their teams have so much to offer the future nursing workforce. The APNA aged care student placement program offers a wraparound support for students and facilitates contribution of the aged care nurses by managing the teaching load. 

“Providing a pathway for nurses, especially new graduates, into aged care, is a much better and more sustainable option than recruiting health professionals from overseas.  

“More nursing students must be given the chance to experience aged care so that we can build a sustainable workforce.  Clinical placements provide an opportunity to enhance and shape a student’s attitudes and learning experiences.” 

“The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety clearly identified that aged care service delivery was well below standard with our older Australians paying the price for poor quality care. We need a sustainable pipeline of qualified registered aged care nurses now to meet the health care needs of the future. APNA’s aged care student nurse placement program provides that pathway.” 

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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