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C17. Addictions nurses: endangered species? Tales from an Australasian workforce mapping project

About The Event

  • Cost: Free
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Learner category:

  • Novice Level
  • Intermediate Level

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will learn about the results of a largescale workforce mapping project
  • Particpants will explore issues specific to the contemporary addiction nursing workforce in Australia, New Zealand and beyond
  • Participants will explore how conducting similar projects globally can help build the addiction nursing voice
  • Participants will be introduced to the concept of the “endangered” addictions nurse and explore
    strategies to avoid the loss of our specialty in Australia and New Zealand.


Introduction During 2019, the Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia (DANA) undertook an ambitious project to understand the drug and alcohol nursing workforce in Australia. DANA conducted this project to provide a detailed overview of nurses working in drug and alcohol positions across Australia. The project found a highly qualified, experienced workforce approaching retirement, with few graduates entering the specialty leading to the observation that drug and alcohol nurses are an ‘endangered species.’ Methods The project used a mixed methods approach to explore the workforce, including key informant interviews, a survey of drug and alcohol nurses across Australia and semi-structured interviews with drug and alcohol nurses. Registration data was also utilized to provide further background and data triangulation. Results The project found that drug and alcohol nurses were highly experienced, highly qualified… and endangered; both survey and registration data show a high proportion of drug and alcohol nurses are aged 45 and over, with few graduates or nurses under 35 in the specialty. Positions of participants were diverse, with skills required well beyond mere addiction treatment. These observations were also supported by qualitative data provided by drug and alcohol nurses in the field. Conclusion Nursing is no stranger to the conversation around workforce shortages, however the results of this project show an alarming situation that could potentially lead to the drug and alcohol nursing specialty becoming extinct. Urgent measures are needed to bring new entrants to the specialty; this presentation will provide recommendations to attempt to address this situation.

Speaker Bio

Dr Searby is a registered nurse who has worked across mental health, community and addictions nursing. He is currently a lecturer at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia and has research interests in addiction nursing workforce development and older adult addiction issues. Dr Searby is the president of the Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia, the peak professional body for addictions nursing in Australasia.

Our Speakers

Adam Searby
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