The Academic and Professional features of Australian post-graduate emergency nursing programs

Ms Tamsin Jones1, Professor Ramon Shaban1,2, Professor Kate Curtis1

1Sydney Nursing School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 2Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Australia

Background: Emergency nursing is unique. Patients of any age present to emergency care environments, generally undiagnosed, and thus there is gross need for suitably trained emergency nurses to safely and efficiently assess and manage care. Staff working in rural and remote areas are further challenged with limited staff and facilities, yet are still required to assess and manage undiagnosed and potentially life-threatening patient complaints. Specialist education in emergency nursing contributes to the skilled workforce, that ultimately improves patient outcomes however preliminary studies indicate there is variability in Australian graduate programs.

Method: A document analysis of all Australian post-graduate emergency programs was conducted in September 2017. These findings informed the development of semi-structured interviews. All Australian post-graduate emergency nursing course conveyors (n=14) were identified and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 key informants in 2018. Interview data was analysed using a five-step framework approach.

Results: Eight key characteristics were identified and aligned to academic or professional features. Five academic features were determined: course entry, funding sources, mode of program delivery, volume of learning and clinical assessments. Three professional characteristics were found: employment requirements, expectations of the graduate and influence of industry and professional engagement

Discussion: The findings are the first documented academic and professional characteristics of graduate emergency nursing programs across Australia. In the absence of nationally defined graduate emergency nursing outcomes and attributes, it is plausible that the effect of these variances could impact workforce and patient safety.

Conclusion: The findings further support the need for the establishment of minimum practice standards for Australian graduate emergency nursing programs.


Tamsin is a PhD Candidate at the Sydney Nursing School, University of Sydney. Her PhD is seeking to develop minimum practice standards for students who complete their post-graduate studies in emergency nursing. When not working on her PhD, Tamsin works as an academic in a Victorian university and casually in a Melbourne ED. Tamsin is also kept very busy with her three three young children, husband and fur child.