Workforce research: a window on the power within

Mrs Stephanie Haines1

1Tasmanian Health Department, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia


Introduction: There are many aspects to the power within.  A lot of the power within a health system comes from its health workers.  Their numbers and their knowledge, but also their professionalism, passion and individual and collective potential shape the possibilities for our healthcare future.  Tasmania has a higher number of nurses and midwives per capita than the national average, but fewer than some jurisdictions.  This highlights differences in how and where nurses and midwives work, and how we provide services. The nursing and midwifery workforce of tomorrow, is, predominantly, the workforce of today.  Community, and workplace change, and role evolution constantly shape the ways we provide care, as over time we welcome new nurses and midwives but also farewell colleagues retiring or changing focus.

Method: Knowledge of characteristics of the nursing and midwifery workforce, once based on 5-yearly census data, is now augmented annually from re-registration workforce survey responses.  Trends illustrate change in Tasmania’s public and private sectors of registration, entry and exit, areas of work, age, average hours, and regional distribution. With information on the existing and emerging health needs of the people of Tasmania this builds the evidence-base to support planning, shifting us toward the cone of futures we desire.

Conclusion: The certainty of change brings challenges and opportunities for individual nurses and midwives in the evolving work environment, and for leaders aligning services with community need.  We care.  We, the workforce, have passion and potential.  We can be “the change”. We are the power within.


Stephanie is a registered nurse with a long term interest and involvement in health workforce planning.  Stephanie works in the Health Workforce Planning Unit of Tasmania’s Department of Health, and studies Public Health at the University of Tasmania.