Registered Undergraduate Student of Nursing (RUSON) Rural and Regional Pilot Project

The Registered Undergraduate Student of Nursing (RUSON) Rural Regional Pilot Project (2017-18) (the pilot) trialled the feasibility of a student of nursing employment model in the rural and regional workforce setting.

The pilot explored an alternative health workforce model through the employment of Bachelor of Nursing students within a defined role and scope of practice, similar to a health assistant in nursing. The model was designed to make better use of existing nursing staff by creating opportunities to fully utilise their skills where they are needed most, by having the RUSONs on hand for assistance with certain care.

A RUSON is a person currently enrolled at a university to undertake undergraduate nursing study, who is registered with Ahpra as a student nurse, and who at commencement, has successfully completed not less than twelve months of the Bachelor of Nursing Degree.

In Victoria the RUSON model is defined by the Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement 2016–2020.

A total of 21 RUSONs were employed through the pilot:

  • In the Loddon Mallee Region: Echuca Regional Health (lead agency), Rochester and Elmore District Health Service, Cohuna District Health Service, Boort District Health Service, Kyabram District Health Service and Kerang District Health Service
  • In the Grampians Region: Ballarat Health Service (lead agency), East Grampians Health Service, Otway Health, Rural Northwest Health, Stawell Regional Health Service and Lorne Community Health.

La Trobe University evaluated the pilot and reported the RUSON role demonstrated considerable advantages, including more time for nurses to focus on care and increased RUSON confidence and intention to work in a rural setting. The evaluation and findings are detailed in the report (see downloads section of web page).

An implementation guide for the RUSON Employment Model has also been developed to assist health services who choose to implement the model; please see the downloads section of this web page.

Registered Undergraduate Student of Midwifery (RUSOM)

The Registered Undergraduate Student of Midwifery (RUSOM) works as an assistant to the health care team, assisting registered midwives to provide delegated aspects of patient care. Elements of direct and indirect patient care will be delegated in accordance with the professional judgement of the supervising midwife and in accordance with the level of achieved educational preparation and assessed competence of the individual RUSOM.

The RUSOM is registered as a student with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and currently undertaking either a Bachelor of Midwifery or Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Midwifery degree.

Health services should note the Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement 2016–2020 (the Agreement) only prescribes a framework for student nursing employment models. In the absence of provisions specific to student midwives, health services are advised to consider all parts of Clause 106 Undergraduate Employment Models of the Agreement when developing undergraduate midwifery student employment models.

Please see the downloads section for an example RUSOM duties list and position description template. The Department of Health and Human Services thanks Western Health, the Royal Women’s Hospital and La Trobe University for their contribution to the development of these documents.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Fact Sheets

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has released a fact sheet titled ‘Employment of students in NMBA-approved nursing/midwifery programs of study’. The fact sheet applies to all employers, education providers and students in NMBA approved nursing programs.

While the fact sheet describes an approach to employing nursing students at a national level, employment of nursing students in Victoria is further defined by the Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement 2016–2020. The Fact Sheet can be accessed www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Statements/COVID19-guidance.aspx

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