Nursing graduates struggle to get jobs

00:31, Jul 22 2014

Amid a regular stream of new graduates, fledgling nurses are struggling to get jobs, a Manawatu nurse graduate says as a petition lobbying for more graduate positions gets under way.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation launched a petition yesterday to encourage Health Minister Tony Ryall to fund a nurse entry to practice (NEtP) position for every nursing graduate to prevent the country facing a significant nursing shortage over the next decade.

Foxton's Kim Lane, who recently graduated from UCOL's three-year nursing degree, said of 40 nursing students in her class, so far only two had secured jobs.

"When you've got 40 people from our class and I think only five or six of us even got interviews, it's a really hard thing," Lane said.

"Going into state finals knowing that only a handful are even likely to get a job, if that, and then to find out that only two people actually did get jobs was even harder."

Lane said every nursing job advertised required at least one year of experience but because only a limited number of graduate positions were available, graduates didn't have the opportunity to gain experience.


"I just hate seeing stories in the news about how understaffed and how short we are of nurses when I know that there are so many people who actually want to work," she said.

"One of the most disheartening things is you work so hard and . . . I want to be out there, I want to be helping people and to know it's just going to get harder because there's going to be even more people applying in November."

According to the NZNO, in the latest ACE round 233 of the 645 applicants have jobs, which left 412 new graduate nurses without work.

Massey University Professor of Nursing Jenny Carryer said the situation where nurses couldn't get a job without experience but didn't have an opportunity to gain that experience was a "big catch 22".

"The skill mix across New Zealand at the moment is currently quite high, so the potential to absorb new graduates is very good at the moment, we should be able to have 100 per cent employment of new graduates," she said.

"Unless they are given the opportunity to gain the experience, we're creating a future hole in the work force."

Guaranteeing a place for every graduate nurse on the NEtP programme would be a huge challenge but it was the right goal, Carryer said.

A critical look at how many nurses were coming in from overseas also needed to be taken.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said of the 1312 students who sat and passed the nursing council exams at the end of last year, the Ministry of Health advised that 87 per cent had been placed in jobs, or were not seeking a job at the moment.

"The Government is making every effort to assist the growth of our nursing work force even further, and a positive announcement in this regard will be made shortly."

To sign the petition visit

Manawatu Standard