Graz/Salzburg. The advance of the Vorarlberg governor Markus Wallner (ÖVP) that his federal state is ready as a model region for the implementation of nursing teaching triggers anything but enthusiasm in the nursing sector. For the Salzburg Nursing Director Karl Schwaiger, it is “pure actionism” and the working conditions for the nursing staff must be improved. The Austrian Health and Nursing Association opposes “further fragmentation” of nursing education.
In an interview with the “Wiener Zeitung”, Wallner, as the regular chairman of the conference of state governors, announced that he would approach the federal government because Vorarlberg was “at the ready” with regard to nursing teaching. Objections from critics, according to which direct contact between young people from the age of 15 instead of 17 years with patients at the bedside is too early, he believes can be solved – by introducing modules in the training.
Concerns about the Swiss model as a role model
For Schwaiger and the health and nursing association, this is not a sustainable solution to address the problem of the acute shortage of nursing staff. He has been dealing with this topic intensively for years, says the Salzburg nursing director. The nursing teaching is “unsuitable”. When it came to teaching nursing, Wallner referred to the model in neighboring Switzerland.
This is exactly where critics come in with their reservations. These relate to the high number of employees who switch from nursing to other professions. According to Schwaiger, it is also evident in Switzerland that this is not a project in which 15-year-olds “remained permanently in the professional field” after a three-year apprenticeship. Although there is a good flow of people into the apprenticeship profession, many young people would quickly leave the profession after completing their apprenticeship. In addition, he draws attention to the competition on the labor market, because the economy is already desperately looking for thousands of apprentices in gastronomy, trade and industry.
Elisabeth Potzmann, President of the Health and Nursing Association, also takes this line, referring to the general shortage of apprentices: “There is no rush for the teaching profession.” The association also refers specifically to “weak points” in the Swiss model. In 2020, 4,500 degrees in nursing were expected there. That looks good at first glance. However, this is then offset by a drop-out rate of 50 to 60 percent.
In addition, the practical training ties up human resources. This staff is then missing in the care of the patients. In addition, the majority in Switzerland do not start their nursing apprenticeship at the age of 15, but only at the age of 16 or even as a career changer.
Volkshilfe director wants 500 euros more for nurses
In a position paper, the health and nursing association spoke out in favor of strengthening the existing training path. As a result, there is a “continuity” from nursing assistance to a doctorate. Making the profession itself more attractive is seen as a main approach to remedying the massive shortage of staff, which the paper states is “essential”. In addition to the improvement in the job situation, the assumption of further training costs by the public sector with full wage and time compensation is also specifically mentioned.
The director of Volkshilfe Austria, Erich Fenniger, does not want to be satisfied with the one-time corona bonus of 500 euros for nursing staff. In a broadcast on Friday, he called for a “reassessment” of the profession. This means that the wage level must be increased by 500 euros gross per month. That may sound like a lot, but it is “the need of the hour”.