- Founding academic of Charles Sturt’s nursing program praised the University for leading the way in healthcare education for rural communities
- Professor Jill White said Charles Sturt ‘set the bar’ for nursing education in Australia
- WHO declared 2020 International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, which will be recognised on International Nurses Day on Tuesday 12 May
One of the founders of Charles Sturt University’s nursing program has said the University has played a vital role in providing healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization and World Health Assembly has designated 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife in recognition of their important contributions to the global healthcare system.
Professor of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sydney and University of Technology Sydney Professor Jill White (pictured) was also one of the founding academics of Charles Sturt’s nursing program 40 years ago, when the University was previously known as the Riverina College of Advanced Education in Wagga Wagga.
She described the University as being close to her heart and credits Charles Sturt with paving the way for tertiary nursing education in Australia.
“This program was really important because it actually led the way to the whole of Australia moving across to tertiary nursing, to nursing at a degree level,” she said.
“The offerings of Charles Sturt University have been, and are, the backbone of health services outside the metropolitan areas.
“It was Charles Sturt University, and its antecedents, that were there at the beginning and understood where the bar should be set, set that bar, and have just flown from there.”
The hard work, dedication and heartbreak of doctors and nurses working on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic has been highlighted for months as healthcare workers fight to save people’s lives.
Professor White said the nursing profession has been thrust into the spotlight in an unexpected way and highlighted the importance of having highly-skilled health professionals to combat this crisis.
She said Charles Sturt has contributed in a major way to ensuring the healthcare system can respond to COVID-19 by producing qualified graduates.
“One of the things about this pandemic is that it is showing the community absolutely clearly the vital nature of the work that nurses do,” she said.
“Had we not had Charles Sturt University make that investment, we really would be impoverished and our friends and family in the country areas may not have the absolutely skilled staff that they need at this time.”
Charles Sturt trained nearly 10,000 nursing graduates between 1994 and 2019 and 27,157 graduates from health-related courses.
These numbers are in part due to the work of Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health (UDRH), a program aimed at improving the recruitment and retention of medical, dental, nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals in rural Australia.
“The history of nursing at Charles Sturt University spans back to the University’s inception, more than 40 years,” she said.
“We have trained high-quality graduates to address health inequities in our region, graduates who take immense pride in their work and bring professionalism and highly-technical skills to their workplaces.
“The work of a nurse and midwife is crucial to the survival of any country’s health system and we are proud to honour those who have passed through Charles Sturt University on this special occasion.”
The full video by Professor Jill White is available to watch on YouTube.