‘A New Career in Nursing’ to help ease shortage in care sector
An innovative public-private partnership will train adults looking for a career change in nursing to try to bring an end to nursing’s stubbornly bottleneck status
“Every week I receive about 10 emails from people doing all kinds of jobs who want to retrain for a job in caregiving,” says Lon Holtzer, the Flemish government’s Care Ambassador. “The reasons are diverse: ‘I want a more meaningful job’; ‘I always wanted to be a nurse, but my parents wouldn’t let me study it’; ‘I was witness to what a nurse can mean when a family member fell ill, and I want to do that, too’. And of course they then ask how they can go about retraining in nursing. This project is the answer to those questions.”
The programme brings together employment agencies, university-colleges and hospitals to offer entire work-study packages to prospective students. The candidates will be hand-selected, and the programme plans to begin with some 40 students this year.
While a campaign to get new college and university students to study nursing has been successful – seeing a 65% increase in nursing degrees between 2009 and 2017 – it is not enough to meet demand. “We are not going to solve the nursing shortage with the classic routes,” says Ilse Janssens of employment agency Emmaüs.
To ensure quality care for patients and for residents of rest homes, we must find new, motivated talent
Retraining for a new career is difficult for many people, however, because working and studying at the same time often proves too challenging. For ‘A New Career in Nursing’, employment agencies specialised in the medical sector will select candidates to enter three- or four-year programmes at local university colleges.
Part of the training will involve paid internships at local hospitals. “That ensures that the training is financial feasible for the students,” explains Janssens.
The programme also guarantees a job offer to new graduates once the training is complete. “To ensure quality care for patients and for residents of rest homes, we must find new, motivated talent,” says Flemish health and welfare minister Jo Vandeurzen. “This project is a creative way to offer workers who want to breathe new life into their careers a chance to train for a particularly useful function in our society.”