The summer is ending with 852 new graduate nurses in work but 547 remain in the talent pool still hoping for a new graduate placement.
The number employed in aged residential care (ARC) – which was a target for new graduate places last year – remained low at 30 and the Ministry of Health says boosting the ARC nursing workforce will be a focus because of a projected decline.
Nursing Review reported in December that 735 (51%) of all new graduate job applicants in the November round were successful and over the summer this swelled to 852 novice nurses (61%) gaining places in new graduate programmes.
But the Ministry of Health statistics from late February show that 39 per cent of the original 1399 applicants* are still seeking a position in a NETP (nursing entry to practice) government subsidised programme.
The numbers are similar to a year ago when 868 (59%) of applicants were placed in NETP or NESP (mental health) programmes by the end of summer leaving 571 (41%) still vying for any remaining places.
But Chief Nurse Jane O'Malley said historical ACE data showed that after 12 months only about 3 per cent of graduates were still actively seeking work through ACE. She added that most district health boards were continuing to employ new graduate nurses and some are planning additional new graduate intakes in the lead up to the expected winter increase in demand.
Ministry statistics show that 132 (63%) of the 211 Māori applicants got jobs through ACE which the Ministry said was a similar trend from previous years with Māori applicants gaining employment at as slightly higher rate than non-Māori. The success rate was not so high for the 103 Pacific applicants with half (51) getting a new graduate position.
The traditional first job settings for new graduate nurses – surgical and medical wards continue to take the highest numbers with 169 new graduates employed in a surgical setting and 130 in medical. Mental health and addictions was the second highest single practice setting taking 133. These three practice settings were also the three most popular first choices of applicants. The fourth most popular first choice, chosen by 132 applicants, was primary health (covering practice, iwi, school and hospice nursing) but only 51 gained jobs in that setting.
Boost needed for declining aged care workforce
One of the least popular choices was aged residential care (the first choice of 16 applicants) and in total 30 new graduates gained jobs in that sector compared to around 38 at the same time last year.
This year there was no additional funding available to support NETP placements in primary care or aged residential care (ARC) – as there had been in previous years through the Very Low Cost Access (VLCA) scholarships or the NETP ARC funding schemes. But for the first time graduates could apply for NETP places with private surgical hospital provider Southern Cross through ACE and by the end of February Southern Cross had 14 new graduates from the July and November intakes.
O'Malley said Health Workforce New Zealand and the Office of the Chief Nursing Officer have developed a workforce forecasting model that estimates there will be 656 fewer registered nurses working in continuing care elderly by 2025, a 15 percent decline. She said consequently the ARC workforce will be a focus including encouraging more new graduates into the sector and ensuring they are supported in their first year of practice.