Many members are now familiar with registered undergraduate students of nursing (RUSONs) and midwifery (RUSOMs). An ANMF (Vic Branch) initiative, these student employment models have been incredibly successful, especially during the pandemic, and are now being expanded – in the mental health field there is the pre-qualifications positions program, and soon we’ll start seeing the Victorian maternal and child health nurse student (VMCHN) employment model.
Like other healthcare settings, some maternal and child health (MCH) services are experiencing workforce challenges, which have been exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19.
The VMCHN employment model is a proposed time-limited additional workforce model aimed at increasing capacity and maternal and child health service delivery for only those workforces with extreme shortages, and who are under an agreed Council Action Plan. It is one of several initiatives designed to address maternal and child health nurse workforce supply challenges, including the annual MCH Nursing Scholarship program and ANMF fee grants for RN/RM students undertaking post-registration/postgraduate (certificate/diploma) education; MCHN workforce support grants; and the Department of Health’s $50 million Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Development Fund.
The employment model would see registered nurses and midwives who are undertaking the post graduate diploma in child and family health being employed by local government councils. To be eligible, the VMCHN must have satisfactorily completed:
- a minimum of 150 hours of clinical placement in the MCH Service
- the theoretical content to support universal MCH nursing practice.
The model was a collaboration between ANMF (Vic Branch) and the Victorian Department of Health, Safer Care Victoria, the Municipal Association of Victoria, the Victorian Association of Maternal and Child Health Nurses, and Latrobe, RMIT and Federation universities.
Principles of the model
Several key principles underpin the student model, among them:
- The VMCHN employment model does not form part of the accredited post-graduate diploma (or equivalent) of child and family health. Hours worked in the VMCHN employment model do not count towards clinical placement hours. Employment in this model should not compromise the student’s completion of their MCH tertiary studies.
- The council will employ the VMCHN to undertake maternal and child health services within a limited scope of practice to families with infants aged 0 to 6 weeks, in line with the scope of practice of a registered nurse and registered midwife.
- The VMCHN will be employed at one MCH service for a minimum of one day per week up to a maximum of three days per week.
- The VMCHN will be paid 95 percent of the MCH nurse Year 1 rate of pay.
- To maximise access to clinical support, it is preferrable that the VMCHN is rostered to work in a dual nurse MCH centre where possible.
- To promote continuity of care it is preferable that the VMCHN is rostered to work where a vacancy exists so potentially, based on employment suitability and completion of their postgraduate studies, the employer may make a permanent offer of employment to a MCH nurse position at the council in this location.
- On any given day, there must not be more than one VMCHN rostered per centre.
- The VMCHN will receive mentorship and clinical support from a suitably experienced MCH nurse, as well as separate support provided by line management. At all times the VMCHN must have timely access to an experienced MCH nurse for support.
- The VMCHN will participate in clinical supervision provided by the MCH service.
- The VMCHN will not be allocated to work within the enhanced MCH program.
- The VMCHN will not be allocated to lead or coordinate parent groups, or to provide group work or outreach visits as part of the sleep and settling model of care.
- The employment period as a VMCHN will continue until the student is qualified as a MCH nurse.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the ANMF, Department of Health and the Municipal Association of Victoria has been agreed as the overarching industrial instrument to approve the VMCHN employment model. A subsequent template MoU between the ANMF and individual LGAs is required for an LGA to implement the VMCHN employment model.
Currently, there are three eligible LGAs who are considering implementing the VMCHN employment model. ANMF is in the process of meeting with members from these LGAs to discuss the model and to seek their view on it.