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With the GuKG amendment 2016, the basic education and training for upper grade service in health care and nursing is now provided in a tertiary education. The new legislation provides for a division of health care and nursing professions into three areas. In addition to the care assistant, formerly “nursing assistant”, there will also be a qualified nursing assistant with an extended sphere of competence. Both groups will continue to receive their education at health care and nursing schools. The education and training for the upper grade service will be conducted at universities of applied sciences in cooperation with health care and nursing schools.
There are questions as to the plausibility of why this particular professional field is being academized. In 26 of the current 28 EU countries, Bachelor degrees are now awarded. Austria is thus implementing a long demanded educational reform in health care and nursing. A further pro argument for the academization is the demographic imbalance; the “inverted” population pyramid shows the progressive aging of society, which is also leading to an increase in chronic conditions, which in turn increases the demand for health care and nursing services. This increased demand is hitting the market, creating an urgent need for highly trained professionals in this primary professional field: “What we need are innovative nursing and care concepts at the intersections of the supply chain between the hospital and mobile services. The focus will also shift to research-led teaching and evidence-based practice with the academization of health care and nursing. Future health care and nursing professionals need the relevant expertise for all the new areas of activity, and the ability to implement scientific concepts in practice,” comments the Department Head and Vice Rector for Education, Roswitha Engel. Specialization opportunities with further Master courses broaden the prospects for Bachelor graduates.
Moreover, in the future there will be an increasing need for technology-supported care services with the goal of enhancing the quality of care provided. Technical improvements and innovations will be very important in this area. “Wearables” for example, microcomputers worn on the body to continuously monitor vital signs. Another example is the “Drink Smart” project in which an intelligent hydration system is currently being developed to measure and control the daily fluid intake of elderly people. Under the leadership of the Degree Program Health Care and Nursing, engineering degree programs and companies from the software, home nursing and plastic production are involved in the project.
The newly founded Department “Nursing Science” includes the Bachelor Degree Program Health Care and Nursing and three Master courses for Advanced Nursing Practice, Education and Counseling and the Academic Course “Health Care and Nursing, Practice Mentoring”. In future we will see increased nursing science and interdisciplinary research in issues for health care and nursing practice (e.g. effectiveness studies), health promotion and prevention as well as topics concerning aspects of education and training. “In 2008, FH Campus Wien became the first university in Austria to offer the Bachelor Degree Program “Health Care and Nursing” as a generalist degree in combination with professional qualifications. In recent years, Master courses and training cooperations have reinforced the leverage to academize health care and nursing. The associated growing number of students in this field and the current education reform make a further strengthening and expansion of the nursing sciences the next logical step for us,” explains Roswitha Engel.
In 2015, following the Vinzenz Group locations in Linz, Ried and Vienna, the locations for the schools of general health care and nursing SMZ-South and SMZ-East of the Vienna Hospital Association (KAV) opened their doors. In 2017, the location for the school for health care and nursing/nursing academy at the Barmherzigen Brüder will also open its doors. The partner locations adopt the curriculum of FH Campus Wien, which is responsible for the training coordination and quality assurance.
“Vienna is growing, which is nice, and the population is aging, which is also nice. However, this also means large challenges for the health system. With the new division of the education and training in the care sector into three areas, the activities of the nursing staff will be restructured and their sphere of competence will be expanded. The academization of the education and training is a significant improvement for people in the health care and nursing professions, making the system more permeable and providing them with more options and opportunities for advancement.“
Amtsführende Stadträtin für Gesundheit, Soziales und Generationen