NZNO's Blog

The personal cost of government failings


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A new grad nurse talks about what it’s really like to be failed by the system. After not receiving a NETP position after graduating this new grad did volunteer work to keep up her skills. Recently she got a part time position as an “emergency response attendant” at a retirement village.

I am happy to share my story. What I want most out of this is for other people to feel brave enough to speak out. And for the government to come to the party and provide new grad nurses with the job opportunities and Nursing Entry to Practice (NETP) positions that they require.

I suppose my biggest gripe is that I was never ever told throughout my degree that there were limited NETP positions and so, along with my friends, I had the attitude that I would get a NETP position.

The last year of my degree was tailored around paediatrics, where I was totally in my element, working in the area I am so passionate about and the reason I chose nursing as my career.

I am well aware that New Zealand has an experienced nursing shortage… but I feel that the answer to that is to support those new grads who trained in NZ to get NETP positions and then there will be more experienced nurses.

I am no politician, but I’m sure there are better solutions to this situation.

I feel pretty devastated to hear about NZ saying we are short on nurses when there are hundreds just like me.

I know I am lucky to have the job at the retirement village after months of unemployment but I also know it’s not what I trained to do.

I have dreams of working as a registered nurse with children and their families with full support from other nurses and clinical preceptors.

New grads like me are being forced into unsuitable jobs and, although we apparently have a nursing shortage, at each of the six extra interviews I had after my ACE interviews in November, I was unsuccessful due to more experienced nurses applying for the same position.

So while I reapply for ACE and hope and pray that I am successful, I will keep trying to find answers to a situation I now do not understand at all. There really isn’t much to say about it except that it’s unfair on so many levels.

I just hope through my voice I can help other new grads and nursing students because I would never wish for anyone else to experience the amount of disappointment I have in the last six months.

7 thoughts on “The personal cost of government failings

  1. Thanks for sharing liz. I’m 2 years in and I know when I was applying for NetP positions I thought it was hard and I was made aware that there were very few within each of the dhbs. I took the first offer of working on a medical ward and I am still there. It’s quite far and it’s nearly a 45- hour drive each way, however I’m glad I accepted because the stories I’m reading and hearing about make me so sad for new grads today. The fact that they call this a nursing shortage is really beyond me and secondly the government would rather invest in bringing overseas nurses instead of investing in the future of NZ nursing by ensuring more NetP positions and clinical support and mentoring for new nurses. I find this extremely disgraceful and really hope we can come up with more viable options that will protect the health care and well being of all NZers and also new graduate nurses.

  2. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. NZ should stop taking overseas jobs for our nursing positions whilst we have new grads looking for jobs. they are in a vicious circle, and THEY are the ones who will be looking after us in our old age, so give them a chance!!! John Key, Tony Ryall HWNZ are you listening????? . There is so much bureaucracy out there….. these guys have done the work to qualify do give them a job!!!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story. i totally agree with you. I am a newly graduated Enrolled Nurse and still have not found a job. We can help so much with you RN’s the only thing we cannot do is IV’s which is a bit silly but i guess that is our scope. We dont even have NETP to apply for as a Enrolled nurse. We are chucked in at the deep end right out of training to find a job! i cannot get a job as a EN so i have to work as a Support worker pretty much cleaning peoples homes and the odd job i get to shower or do BSL’s and insulin. Its disappointing i did not train for this. A few of my other Nursing friends are doing the same just cos they need to earn money to live. In Auckland there is no jobs for us EN’s and i know its the same for the RN’s too. Good luck and i hope you find something in Pediatrics. This is my dream also if i decide to go on to to the bachelors programme 🙂

  4. There is a wide range of issues here. The first one is a cultural/generational issue that some new graduate staff seem to feel that they have the right to walk into the acute hospital workforce, have a job in the area that they have decided best meets their interests and that a job is a right, not a privilege. Having been at several NetP interviews a few years I was quite horrified at the attitude of some applicants, even what some decided to wear to the interview. Trackies and a T-Shirt or gear that you would go out clubbing does not give the best impression. Why would we hire people who will not make the effort? People who were offered jobs, then turning them down because they wanted an ICU, paeds, ED and other specialist areas. If they couldn’t have that job – they wouldn’t take the other. Do we need that attitude in our workforce? Not every grad is potentially a good fit for the workforce, despite passing a degree they are still lacking the attitude to be work ready. In saying all this – the majority are good nurses that I would be happy to work with.

    Some DHB’s like Canterbury ring-fence graduate positions. From none when I graduated (no-one in my year got a hospital job…it was the 1990’s after all) to today when they offer around 70 new grad and partnership positions every 6 months. Still there are staff that miss out, but like when I graduated could look at rest home work to consolidate knowledge, skills and training before re-applying later on – or once they develop the knowledge can apply for more senior positions in the acute area. More and more care is being undertaken in the residential care and community settings and positions do exist in these areas. I learnt more in a resthome in my first two years then I ever thought I would. A rest home is not a second class job – it is an opportunity to apply learning, and to learn.

    Having a Government mandate to all DHB’s that fixed positions are ring-fenced in DHB’s would be a good start. Working with other health care providers will identify opportunities for new graduates that they may not be aware of in residential care and older persons health, utilising the experienced overseas nursing staff to mentor new grads into roles in the sub-acute environment.

    The reality is that right now there is not funding for ‘extra’ staff. Funding is provided for the (usually minimum) staff numbers that are required in each clinical area. Once the NetP numbers exceed the available positions, where does the money come from? It would be great to have more hands on a ward, but if there is no money for additional staff above the standard staffing levels, services need to be cut, or other staff are forced to reduce their own hours. The current Government is increasing the requirements’ for DHB’s but the funding is being maintained – not increased. Is there an easy answer? Not really. Not in this political climate.

    Ensuring that there is a greater awareness within the undergraduate training that each and every placement should be treated as a job interview, that placements in the acute environment are limited due to the ability to absorb so many staff into an organisation could help with realistic expectations. Actively encouraging New Grads to engage with the rest home and residential care environments for potential jobs.

    Is the solution that the Nursing programme expanded to have an elective student year placement? In this way it is more likely that graduates would be more work ready and more appealing to future permanent? To me that would seem more like an unpaid internship year – but we need to be more innovative with solutions that meet the needs of the healthcare community, and addresses the numbers of staff that are being produced by the undergraduate training institutions, into an environment that does not seem to have the positions available at this point in time.

  5. Thanks for sharing Liz. We hear a lot about new grads finding it hard to get jobs, but it’s really personal when someone shares their story of how it’s affecting them.

    I had a NETP place in the DHB after graduating in 2009, but it was an incredibly difficult journey getting competent. After myself and another graduate had the hospital try and remove us/pressure us to resign for reasons that were never very clear, I had every nurse’s worst nightmare – a nursing council review, mediation, and a good eight months of unemployment with no references (the other graduate had a lawyer so she stayed). Eventually I found a lovely rest home 100 km away that was prepared to support me to finish my NETP. After that it was another whole year of job hunting, but I was able to pick up some shifts with the agencies. Finally I got a full-time position in a rest home close to home as a night nurse. It’s turned out to be a challenging but fantastic place to work, and after 8 months of night nursing I’m now doing full-time rotating shifts with a great team. I’m also one of the NZNO delegates in my workplace. (they’ve supported 3 new grads in the last 2 years with their NETP).

    I hope you are able to be patient and hang in there, keep applying, and if you are in a position to, don’t be afraid to travel to get your new graduate experience overseas. The Australian employers seem to appreciate and value NZ graduates a lot more than they appear to back home. Travelling for a year is also what most other new professionals also have to do to get their experience (teachers, physios, doctors etc). I love the graduates we are working with, they are incredibly switched on and have so much to offer. I’m sure you do to, and any employer with half a brain should see that.

  6. Expecting to get a netp is one of the first reality checks about nursing. Nothing is ever assumed in nursing. The reality is govt..dhbs or local health authories view new grads as more a liabilty . Senior staff dont really want to precept on the ward and those that do are few n far between. New grads need support which means extra time management. There simply arent enough jobs to go around. Nursing degrees shud equal nursing jobs..wouldnt that b nice. Sadly alot of new grads r working overseas.

  7. we sacrfise time and 17,000 to be a RN!! University’s and institutes should limit numbers if there no jobs available!! its not fair and a vicious cycle. you think your investing in something and it turns out to be a waste!

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