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Australia to introduce new assessment model for internationally qualified nurses

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The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has announced a new assessment model for the registration of internationally qualified nurses and midwives in the country. The board will also introduce an Outcomes-Based Assessment replacing the current bridging program for nurses not having “substantially equivalent” qualifications.

The NMBA is using an interim assessment model introduced in 2014 for internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNMs) before they can start practising in the country. The current assessment model includes eight criteria.

"Since 2014, the NMBA has been working on the underpinning research and evidence base for a new model of assessment," the Board said in a statement.

As part of the change, the Board has planned to reduce the criteria from eight to three. All applicants who require registration to work in Australia will have to undergo the new assessment model. This change will come into effect in early 2019.

According to the Board, all the IQNMs applying for registration in Australia will, in addition, have to participate in an orientation program consisting of three parts. 

The first part will be an online assessment that introduces IQNMs to Australia and the Australian healthcare system whereas the second part will cover the diversity of the Australian culture. The third part of the program will be provided by the employer of the applicant which will be based on the guidelines of the Board.nurses

What are the criteria?

Internationally qualified nurses and midwives who apply for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) are assessed against the NMBA registration standards. Presently, this includes eight qualification criteria. These current criteria can be found here.

Under the new change, this will be reduced to three. However, the NMBA has not yet revealed the three new criteria. This will only be announced early next year, an NMBA spokesman told SBS Malayalam.

Bridging course to be replaced

The statement also reads, "the NMBA will also transition to an outcomes-based assessment (OBA) for IQNMs who hold relevant but not substantially equivalent qualifications (and who meet the mandatory registration standards), replacing the current need for bridging programs for these applicants."

As per the new plan by NMBA, this bridging course will be completely ceased and will be replaced by an outcomes-based assessment (OBA) pathway, an NMBA spokesperson told SBS Malayalam.

This will commence in the second half of 2019.

Those applicants, who meet the mandatory registration standards of the Board, will continue to be referred to the current bridging program until the new OBA assessment commences.

New assesment for internationally qualified nurses

OBA (Outcomes-Based Assessment)

The only IQNMs whose qualification does not meet all the required criteria will be directed to the outcomes-based assessment pathway. The OBA includes both a cognitive and behavioural component. It is mandatory to pass the cognitive assessment before the behavioural component is attempted. 

Cognitive assessment will be computer-based multiple choice questionnaire. The behavioural assessment will be in the form of an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). 

The OSCE has been developed to assess the behavioural skills of an IQNM that reflect the knowledge and skills of an entry-level Australian nurse or midwife. Early this year, NMBA has appointed the Monash University, one of the leading universities in Melbourne to develop the OSCE for internationally qualified nurses which will come into effect by mid-2019.

The current bridging program will be continued till OSCE comes into effect. However, the majority of the organizations which run the bridging program have not yet been renewed with their registration to run the course.

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