The nurses' union NZNO is once again calling for guaranteed places for all nursing graduates on hearing that nearly half missed out on graduate nursing placements in the latest job round.
The statistics from the latest November round of the ACE graduate clearing house showed a slightly higher than usual job success rate with nearly 54% (779) of the 1455 applicants gaining places in new graduate programmes starting in the New Year (see December 14 Newsfeed article).
The New Zealand Nursing Organisation has been calling for a number of years for a funding boost to ensure all graduates have the guarantee of a nursing placement in a government-subsidised NETP (Nurse Entry to Practice) or NESP (new entry to specialist practice, mental health and addictions) programme that offer further training and mentoring support.
NZNO Associate Professional Nursing Manager Hilary Graham-Smith said that only having just over half of graduates employed in the health workforce at this point was surely not acceptable to New Zealanders.
"Hundreds of enthusiastic, trained New Zealand nurses are looking for work and are just left languishing. This is a real problem,” Graham-Smith said.
“We have seen very little improvement in the number of graduate placements over the last four years. While some district health boards and some directors of nursing have worked hard to increase intake, overall far too many new graduate nurses remain without appropriate employment on completion of their degree.
“Evidently there is little government will to fund a programme that means all new graduate nurses have a position in a new entry training programme."
In recent years about 1750-1850 new graduate nurses have been registered each year by the Nursing Council – the majority of those graduate and sit their state finals in November and apply for new graduate positions in the November ACE round.
In a statement yesterday Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said in 2016 the government subsidised 1291 new graduate nurses into new graduate programme positions. This is up on 1000 NETP positions filled in 2014 and there are usually in addition around 120-130 NESP places each year.
Coleman also said the latest statistics indicate that only 3 per cent of November 2015 graduates were still job-hunting after the latest round which was "an impressive success rate".
Graham-Smith said the fact that many find work over the ensuing year is not necessarily something to celebrate when it knows graduates end up in employment situations (outside of NETP) where there is insufficient registered nurse support. (The annual graduate survey carried out by nurse educator group NETS in March indicated that around 90 new nurses were employed in residential aged care but only 30 places were approved and offered in NETP programmes, see related article).
"In these circumstances they are expected to take on too much responsibility as a beginning registered nurse and consequently we have reports they then get into difficulty, become overwhelmed and sometimes leave the profession."
“Every newly registered nurse and enrolled nurse deserves a place in a NETP programme all New Zealanders should be asking the government why it doesn’t value New Zealand graduate nurses enough to fund all graduates in the training programme,” Graham-Smith said.