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Graduate nurses need training and support: NZNO

NZNO Associate Professional Nursing Manager Hilary
Photo: NZNO Associate Professional Nursing Manager Hilary Graham-Smith
The New Zealand Nursing Organisation (NZNO) has called for an injection of funds to ensure all graduate nurses are guaranteed nursing placements with additional training and mentoring support.

The NZNO’s call comes after the November 2016 results of the national recruitment system, the ACE scheme, showed 853 students, or 61 per cent, of the 1404 nurse graduates seeking employment are now employed on the government-subsidised new graduate placement in 2017— leaving 551 nurses seeking employment.

NZNO Associate Professional Nursing Manager Hilary Graham-Smith said while the November figures showed a small increase in the percentage of new graduates gaining places on NEtP (Nursing Entry to Practice) and the New Entry to Speciality Practice Mental Health and Addiction Nursing Programme (NESP), significant numbers of new graduates remain waiting in the talent pool.

“While the Ministry tells us that quite a number of these nurses will be employed, our concern is that it will be outside of the NEtP/NESP programs, which is a risk in terms of them being properly coached and mentored as newly registered nurses,” she said.

Ms Graham-Smith said while Health Workforce New Zealand funding for nursing, the largest health workforce, is $14 million - excluding NEtP and NESP funding, the spending for medicine is $113 million.

“New medical graduates are guaranteed a place in the post grad year one program. Indeed, in 2009, the government passed legislation to ensure this would be the case,” she said.

Ms Graham-Smith said trained, new graduate nurses are concerned about their job prospects.

“They invested heavily in terms of time and money to gain a degree and register as a nurse,” she said.

“Employers need to get past their approach of only wanting experienced nurses and get on board with growing our own workforce before they all either leave nursing or seek work overseas.”

ACE statistics showed most nurses are finding work in surgical (182 nurses), medical (122), and mental health and addiction areas (116).

A government statement says data from past ACE rounds suggests the vast majority of graduate nurses find employment over the following year.

But the NZNO said graduates are gaining employment in environments outside of NEtP, where there is often insufficient support from registered nurses.

It fears newly trained nurses are expected to take on too much responsibility and often get into difficulty, become overwhelmed, while some leave the profession.

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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords