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  • Students continue to work towards nursing careers

    Author: Karen Keast

New Zealand students are continuing to pursue careers in nursing despite 571 new graduates looking for jobs earlier this year.

With nursing workforce shortages predicted in New Zealand in 2017, universities have reported nursing enrolment numbers remain strong this year.

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New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) associate professional services manager Hilary Graham-Smith said the latest figures show a modest increase in the number of new graduates gaining employment through the Nurse Entry to Practice (NEtP) program and Nurse Entry to Specialist Practice (NESP) - up from 51 per cent in December last year to 59 per cent in March this year.

“There doesn’t appear to have been a drop off in the number of nursing students which is pleasing because we know that by 2017 we are going to have to increase the level of recruitment to meet demand in future years,” she said.

A Health Workforce New Zealand report, Health of the Health Workforce, last year found the country needed to train more nurses by 2017 due to the looming retirement of the ageing workforce, with 46 per cent of nurses then aged over 50 - up from 40 per cent in 2009.

The report predicts a demand for nurses in cancer care, aged care, endoscopy and long-term condition management.

NZNO last year launched a petition calling for the government to fund a one-year NEtP for all new graduate nurses.

The petition came amid concerns large numbers of graduate nurses were failing to secure work in a clinical setting due to a limited number of NEtP places while employers were also seeking candidates with experience.

Ms Graham-Smith said while many nursing graduates eventually find employment, they may not be in NEtP or NESP.

“(They are often) in workplaces where there is no capacity to provide preceptorship, mentorship and professional development,” she said.

“New graduate employment and the availability of NEtP/NESP places is part of the nursing workforce planning work being undertaken by the National Nursing Organisations in collaboration with Health Workforce NZ and the Ministry of Health.

“NZNO continues to keep the issue alive in our discussions with the Minister, the Ministry and Health Workforce NZ.”

Ministry of Health figures show 868 graduate nurses have been employed, with 104 employed at Canterbury District Health Board (DHB) while Auckland has employed 96 and Waitemata has 93.


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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