EMILY Salinas is under no illusions as to what nursing will be like when she enters the profession.
The second-year nursing student, of Winston Hills, has a grandmother who was a nurse and was first drawn to a similar career path after work experience in paediatrics at the San Hospital in year 10.
"I loved it," she said. "Ultimately I'd like to become a midwife or work in maternity. It's full on and there's a lot to take in but it's really interesting because you're not just learning about medicine or a science. It's a holistic subject, really diverse."
A recent survey of 200 nurses found just over half would leave the profession within 10 years. About a third said overwhelming workloads, unclear career progression and low pay were the reasons why.
But Miss Salinas isn't fazed by the findings. "I just always knew that's what you deal with," she said. "Nursing is obviously a hard profession — you're on your feet all day and do long hours, not just working nine to five."
The secretary of the NSW Nurses Association, Brett Holmes, said the most common concern raised by nurses and midwives in NSW was the delivery of safe patient care. He said staff numbers and skill mix, an ageing population and an increased level of accountability reporting from government regulation and employers all weighed on nurses' ability to deliver this.
"There's no doubt the extra nurses are making some difference to the staffing shortage but they're not universal and more will be needed if services are to be expanded to match increasing demand on the health system," he said. "Decent pay and conditions are always a good place to start. Nurses all want the satisfaction of delivering good, safe care."