Nearly half nursing graduates find jobs

Mike Waddell
Mike Waddell
Just under half of Otago Polytechnic's nursing graduates from last year have found jobs.

A surplus of new nurses emerged partly because of a slowdown in international recruitment and belt-tightening by New Zealand health boards. The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) has previously accused the Government's Health Workforce NZ of doing too little to ameliorate the situation.

Polytechnic communications director Mike Waddell said this week 45 of 92 graduates had found work in the sector.

Considering the shortage of jobs, the situation was reasonably positive.

''It's less than half, but the reality is too, they only graduated in December ... of course we would like it to be better, but we're tracking them and watching this space.''

Four of the 45 headed to Australia for work, and eight of the 45 jobs were in the aged-care sector.

The polytech would carry out a formal follow-up survey in a couple of weeks.

By the end of February last year, almost all of the 2012 graduates had found jobs. NZNO associate professional services manager Hilary Graham-Smith, of Hamilton, said the Otago figures reflected the national situation.

She supported initiatives under way that allowed nurses to start their careers outside of hospitals.

It was crucial graduates were mentored in first jobs and should not be put into environments that did not provide adequate support.

Mrs Graham-Smith believed the Government had recently started to listen to the union's calls for more action.

Health Workforce NZ acting director Dr Ruth Anderson said New Zealand was faring well compared with some other countries, given the international reduction of demand for nurses.

''With New Zealand's increasing and ageing population, graduate nurses will be in growing demand,'' she said.

University of Otago health screening authority Associate Prof Brian Cox recently suggested that adopting a national bowel cancer screening programme would create more demand for nurses.

Prof Cox disagrees with the Government's approach, which is to run a four-year bowel cancer screening pilot in Waitemata, Auckland, and decide near the end of the four years whether to introduce a national programme. The pilot started in 2012.

- eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz