NZNO acting professional services manager, Hilary Graham-Smith answers a few of the questions people have been asking about our campaign to get a ‘nurse entry to practice’ position for every new grad nurse.
Q: Aren’t the tertiary institutions just churning out too many nurses? It’s just “bums on seats” with no thought for the workforce needed.
A: The NZNO petition calling for 100% of new graduates to be employed in a NEtP programme has drawn comment about the role of the education providers in creating what is seen as a glut of new graduates i.e. the problem of lack of employment for new graduates is seen as a consequence of large intakes of students to boost enrolment numbers and keep the tertiary institutes fiscally upright.
NZNO has been working with other national nursing organisations (known as the NNO group) in developing a report on the New Zealand nursing workforce for Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ).
The report describes the demographic and fiscal challenges facing the health system and plots these against the challenges facing the New Zealand nursing workforce. The challenges to the system are the growing and aging population with the incumbent increase in demand for health services. The challenges for nursing are similar with 50% of the nursing workforce predicted to retire over the next 21 years.
Filling the gap requires forethought and planning, not in 21 years time but now, including knowing the numbers of student intakes in tertiary institutions and whether these are appropriate for future nursing workforce requirements.
Q: How can there be a shortage of nurses if the ones we’re training can’t get a job? Doesn’t that suggest the opposite?
A: The NNO report states that if everything remains the same (student recruitment, retention, numbers active in the workforce) then we will have sufficient nurses in the workforce until about 2020 but maintaining the existing status quo will result in a shortage of 15,000 nurses by 2035. The supply issues need to be addressed now both in terms of recruitment and retention and the NNO group has signalled the need for those workforce planning conversations to occur across the sector so that we have enough nurses and so that the nursing workforce reflects the needs of our population.
Q: What’s the big deal about NEtP anyway? Shouldn’t nurses just get a job like any other new graduate coming out of a tertiary institution?
A: The aim of the NEtP programme is to ensure that new graduate nurses commence their careers in a safe, supported clinical environment where they can grow their skills and confidence as RNs. It provides a framework for further learning and development and contributes to the development of a sustainable nursing workforce. The education providers and their curricula are subject to monitoring and approval by the Nursing Council in order to ensure a high quality of delivery and achievement.
Q: Why do we need a plan? Isn’t “supply and demand” enough?
A: Our campaign for 100% employment of new graduate nurses is as much about the need for a nursing workforce plan, something which is woefully absent at present. Given the predictions in regard to the shortage of nurses NZ will experience in the not too distant future we want Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ) to realise its commitment to work with the NNO group and sector to put a plan in place to avoid this shortage. Our new graduates are an important part of that plan in terms of managing the supply side pressures.
Q: Nice idea, but where’s the money going to come from?
A: Medicine (ie doctors) currently receives 60% of HWNZ funding for workforce development. Nursing shares the other 40% with other allied health professions. We believe it is time that nursing as the largest health workforce are given an equitable share of the funding so that we can recruit to and retain our New Zealand prepared nursing workforce.
We’re asking the Minister of Health, Tony Ryall to commit to 100% NetP for new graduate nurses and to come up with the funding to achieve this.
Ma whero ma pango ka oti ai te mahi
With red and black the work will be complete
(If we all do our part our goal will be achieved)
You can find out more about the New Zealand Nurses Organisation campaign to support our new grads here: http://www.nzno.org.nz/newgrads