More than 1000 community members wanting to join the fight against COVID-19 have lodged expressions of interest with Canberra Health Services.
About 600 employment packs have already been posted out with the essential paperwork needed to get these people job-ready for deployment as needed.
A Canberra Health Services spokeswoman said the response had been encouraging.
"A variety of people from different backgrounds have expressed interest, including nurses, doctors, allied health staff, administration staff, pathology trained staff, catering staff and security staff," the spokeswoman said.
"The purpose of this exercise is to ensure that we have enough staff to meet demands that may arise through this emergency."
Canberra Health Service is working with the Australian National University, University of Canberra, Australian Catholic University and Canberra Institute of Technology to enlist students and faculty who could help in the response to the coronavirus emergency.
ACT Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Anthony Dombkins, who started in the job on January 6, said while they were working with the universities to determine who could be deployed, student nursing placements had been postponed to help manage the situation.
"It wasn't a decision taken lightly," Mr Dombkins said.
He said it was a precautionary measure taken in light of COVID-19, but one that would be reviewed when it was clear how severe the situation would be for Canberra. He said they would work with the private sector to facilitate third year placements to ensure those students could graduate.
While public clinical placements would not go ahead, which would affect about 6500 students, there was a place for students in the COVID-19 response, Mr Dombkins said.
"The students can come in as assistants in nursing and midwifery in allied health.They do have a defined scope of practice and that way there is a governance framework around this non-registered workforce within the health arena," he said.
"Within the right model of care, within the multidisciplinary team and with a defined scope of practice they can support the workforce, especially in this current COVID climate."
Australian Catholic University dean of health sciences Professor Michelle Campbell said a large proportion of nursing student placements had been cancelled across Australia, including all paramedic placements in Canberra and placements at The Canberra Hospital.
Professor Campbell was concerned if third-year students couldn't pick up other placement options they risked not being able to graduate at the end of the year.
"We very much want hospitals not to cancel places," Professor Campbell said.
"A lot of the hospitals are also calling up the schools of nursing and asking if they can employ their students as assistants in nursing as this crisis spirals out of control and more are needed. We've got quite a few nursing students moving in that direction, but there is another model we would prefer called registered undergraduate student nurses (RUGSN).
"That's a much nicer model where the student nurse works with the registered nurse and provides care to patients under that supervision. One registered nurse and one student can look after six patients, whereas a normal registered nurse would look after four."
Professor Campbell said for second and third-year nurses it was a better way for them to contribute to the workforce. She said if that happened, the hours could potentially be applied as practical hours so the students could graduate.
"It's in everybody's best interests to get these third-year nurses, midwives and paramedics graduated at the end of this year," she said.
University of Canberra head of school of nursing, midwifery and public health Professor Karen Strickland said the postponement of student placements had "released students to join the surge workforce needed during this time".
"Our nursing, midwifery and allied health students and health academics are ready to assist health services in whatever way possible during the COVID-19 pandemic should they wish to, whilst doing everything possible to limit the risks to those students and health professionals," Professor Strickland said.
"We are in this together and will work together to find solutions that work to support health services in Canberra and the community."
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