Next-generation of nurses impressed with primary health care

Media Release 12 May 2022 

New national data shows seven out of every 10 student nurses who complete APNA’s Student Nurse Placement Program (SNPP) say they would consider a primary health care (PHC) career. 

In addition, four out of every ten student nurses who completed the SNPP said the program was their first experience of primary health care nursing. 

Preliminary results from the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association’s (APNA) survey of SNPP student nurses and nurse supervisors found:  

  • four out of 10 (38.5%) participating nursing students were offered employment following their APNA student placement.  
  • four out of 10 (38.5%) participating nursing students said their APNA placement was their first experience of primary health care nursing 
  • four out of 10 (39.4%) PHC nurse supervisors said they did (or would have) offered the student employment following their APNA placement 
  • Seven out of 10 (69%) nursing students said they would consider primary health care as a career path following their APNA placement  

With an urgent need to manage increasing rates of chronic disease, an ageing population, and a predicted shortfall of nurses in coming years, Australia desperately needs more primary health care nurses. 

Most nurses start their career in a hospital. Historically, it was difficult for universities and tertiary education providers to arrange placements for student nurses in primary health care. However, the APNA Student Nurse Placement Program provides student nurses with a foot in the door to a career in vibrant primary health care settings such as general practice or community health. 

The placements allow students to experience the role of a primary health care nurse with 1:1 supervision. 

This can enrich the student's skillset and establish a pipeline of new, skilled, and experienced PHC nurses for the future.  For some clinical tasks such as health screening and vaccination, this can also relieve pressure on overworked PHC nurses.  

Advantages of joining the APNA Student Nurse Placement Program include: 

  • Workplaces are compensated for involvement in the project with a financial payment and nurse professional development 
  • Nurse supervisors are supported throughout the placement 
  • Workplaces can build a pipeline of prospective employees 
  • Two- to three-week placements are available throughout the year 
  • Education and professional development for nurse supervisors 

APNA’s SNPP is already allowing nursing students to play a vital role in primary health care settings while simultaneously accruing their essential clinical placement time under the supervision of experienced primary health care nurses.  

There are already 108 Victorian and 32 interstate organisations registered with APNA’s SNPP. The program is set to place more than 500 students in high quality placements with multiple primary health care providers this year alone. The SNPP program includes clinics in Ballarat, Bairnsdale, Swan Hill, Portland, and Mildura, and facilitated student nurse placements in New South Wales, the ACT, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania. 

Scaling up this program so that it can be coordinated nationally would provide a workforce pipeline of motivated and skilled nurses who could help alleviate the staffing crisis in aged care homes, general practice, and other primary health care settings across the country.  

Placing more student nurses in primary health care settings to carry out supervised learning and skills training would also support higher rates of screening for chronic disease which is forecast to increase due to COVID-19.  

APNA looks forward to working with governments, health departments, and universities and TAFEs across the country to ensure Australia has a large-enough workforce of PHC nurses to meet future needs for decades to come.  



“Great primary health care needs great primary health care nurses.  And that starts with giving nursing students a positive placement during their studies.” 

“Australia is at risk of not having enough suitably trained PHC nurses to staff aged care homes, general practices, and other primary health care settings in coming years. We need a sustainable pipeline of qualified primary health care nurses now to meet the health care needs of the future.”  

“More nursing students must be given the chance to experience primary health 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.” 

“Placements are critical to establishing a future workforce.  The Commonwealth Government needs to play its part by supporting a national nursing student placement scheme in primary health care.”   




Media enquiries: Nick Buchan,, 03 9332 9540 


Fact sheet – Preliminary results from APNA’s Student Nurse Placement Program 2022 survey 

Student nurse responses 

Q: Have you been exposed to primary health care in a nursing capacity before? 


Response (%) 

Yes, I have experienced primary health care with other placements or work environments in a nursing capacity 


No, I have been exposed to primary health care but not in a nursing capacity 


No, this was my first experience seeing what is involved with primary health care nursing 



Q: Were you offered paid employment after your placement? 


Response (%) 

Yes, I was offered employment and I have accepted 


Yes, I was offered employment but I did not accept for personal reasons 


No, I was not offered employment as all positions were filled 


No, I was not offered employment as I am not at a stage where employment is considered 


No, I was not offered employment 



Q: After your experience on your primary health care placement, are you considering primary health care for your career path? 


Response (%) 



I was already considering it before the placement 





Nurse supervisor question 

Q: Have you offered paid employment to the student after their placement? 



Yes, we offered the student employment, and they accepted 


Yes, we offered the student employment, but they declined 


No, we would love to offer the student employment but we don't have any positions to fill 


No, the student was not at a stage in their studies to be employed 


No, we have not offered employment (click to view) 





APNA surveyed 210 PHC nurse supervisors and student nurses who participated in APNA’s Student Nurse Placement program. Students attended placements in primary health care settings including general practice, aged care and specialist surgical centres.  Students participated from July 2021 - Feb 2022 and were surveyed between 14-27 April 2022. Nurse supervisors took part from September 2020 and continue to participate. They were surveyed between 29 March - 14 April 2022. 

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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