Protecting our doctors, nurses, pharmacists and health practitioners of the future

21 Apr 2020

A unique multi-sector collaboration to protect Australia’s future health workforce is helping students learning to become health practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic continue their studies and graduate.

Students build the capabilities they need to practise safely and competently as a registered health practitioner through clinical education experiences, including student placements in a range of health services and settings.

‘Some student placements have been paused, cancelled or otherwise modified as health services respond to the pandemic,’ said Bronwyn Clark, Chair, Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum.

‘This has led to significant uncertainty and change for students and educators as education providers, Accreditation Authorities, clinical supervisors and others explore alternative options for students to progress towards graduation.'

Forum of NRAS Chairs Co-Convenor Brett Simmonds said Australia’s future health workforce is dependent on current students maintaining access to a range of clinical education opportunities so they can graduate and eventually apply for registration under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS).

‘Changes to clinical placement arrangements due to COVID-19 will potentially jeopardise future health workforce continuity, prompting this important multi-sector collaboration.’

The current emergency response is challenging the health system, requiring rapid changes to health services and models of care, with calls for new levels of collaboration across sectors. Accordingly, National Boards, Accreditation Authorities and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra), with the Australian Government through the Health and Education portfolios, have issued national principles for clinical education during the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘The principles aim to provide helpful guidance to professions, Accreditation Authorities, education providers and health services about how placements can occur safely, taking into account the significant changes across the health and education sectors due to COVID-19,’ Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said.

‘We recognise that health services must prioritise their response to the pandemic and that patient safety is paramount. We also collectively want to encourage student placements to continue where this is safe and possible and hope these principles will help.'

Visit the National principles for clinical education during COVID-19 to find out more.

More information

  • Bronwyn Clark: Chair, Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum; CEO, Australian Pharmacy Council; Co-Chair, Accreditation Liaison Group.
  • Brett Simmonds: Co-Convenor, Forum of NRAS Chairs; Chair, Pharmacy Board of Australia; Co-Chair Accreditation Liaison Group.
  • The Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum is the coalition of the 15 Accreditation Authorities.
  • Ahpra works in partnership with 15 National Boards to regulate Australia’s 740,000 registered health practitioners. Together, our primary role is to protect the public and set the standards and policies that all registered health practitioners must meet.
  • The Accreditation Liaison Group brings together representatives of the National Boards, Accreditation Authorities and Ahpra.
  • The Forum of NRAS Chairs is made up of all Chairs from the 15 National Boards regulating individual health practitioners under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.

For further information, call the Ahpra media line: (03) 8708 9200.

Page reviewed 21/04/2020