Nursing graduates face a likely shortage of jobs, but New Zealand is not training too many nurses, industry leaders agree.
According to Health Ministry figures, 1239 students are expected to have completed nursing qualifications at the end of the year. But the nation's district health boards have just 707 jobs to offer them.
While that figure does not include jobs in aged care, doctor clinics and private hospitals, there will not be jobs for everyone.
"There is an issue and yes it's very very worrying," Massey University Professor of Nursing Jenny Carryer said.
But it would be incorrect to jump to the conclusion too many nurses were being trained.
Health Ministry chief nurse Jane O'Malley said: "New Zealand's future nursing numbers need to take into account the health needs of an ageing population, a growing population and an ageing nursing workforce."
Prof Carryer, who is also the executive director of the College of Nurses, said independent estimates showed that if New Zealand continued to train the same number of nurses at it did now the ratio of nurses to New Zealanders would "decline rapidly" in coming years.
NZ Nurses Organisation professional service manager Susanne Trim said "there is a bit of a mismatch" between the jobs available for new graduates and the number graduating.
"We know some nurses will go overseas . . . that has been a bit of a trend over the last decade.
"Historically, about 85 per cent of new grads will have positions in the new year," Mrs Trim said.
The ministry has introduced a new system this year, called ACE, that asks DHBs to list vacancies they will have for new graduates. The students then apply for the roles that interest them.
Ms O'Malley said a second round of recruitment would be completed by early December when more vacancies were expected to be identified.
Prof Carryer said lower turnover in the work force, recruitment of nurses from overseas and lower staffing levels could be contributing factors to a shortage of jobs.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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