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8,000 signatures! Petition goes to Parliament.

Today we took our 8,000 strong petition calling for a nurse entry to practice position for every new graduate nurse to Parliament. Ryan Boswell from TV1 and his cameraman were waiting to find out what was going on.

You can see the ONE news piece here: Desperate nurses call for jobs action

NZNO president Marion Guy talked about the nursing shortage New Zealand is facing – we will be short more than 15,000 nurses by 2035!

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Kaiwakahaere Kerri Nuku explained how important it is to have a homegrown nursing workforce. We need nurses who are representative of our population; that means we need to train and retain way more Maori and Pacific nurses and rely less on internationally qualified nurses.

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We had a quick photo with the petition before Marion, Kerri and our CE Memo Musa went into the Beehive to meet with Minister of Health Tony Ryall. An entire class of school kids spontaneously joined us!

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Marion, Kerri and Memo head into the meeting.

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The rest of us, enrolled nurses, registered nurses, student nurses, new grads, delegates and NZNO staff, unfurl the petition. It’s massive! 8,000 signatures takes a lot of paper to print.

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While a few members roll the petition back up, the reporter talks to new grad, Kim Lane. Kim talks about what it’s like to spend years getting a nursing degree and have no job to go to at the end of it. Madness! We’re going to need every nurse we can get in a year or two…

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Here’s hoping the Minister sees the sense in what we’re asking for. The nursing workforce must be a priority.


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Some questions and answers about our campaign for new grad nurses

NZNO Colour-31 Alex smNZNO 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.

And we’re asking you to sign and share the petition with your family and friends.

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

 


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Every new grad nurse deserves the best start to their career

New grad bannerToday the New Zealand Nurses Organisation is launching a petition aimed at achieving a nurse entry to practice (NEtP) position for every new grad nurse.

New Zealand is facing a significant nursing shortage over the next decade. We need to begin growing a sustainable, home-grown and highly skilled nursing workforce if we are to maintain the high quality of nursing care we all deserve. We’re educating some of the nurses needed to fill that gap and we need to support them to gain experience and stay in New Zealand.

The nurse entry to practice programme is a structured support programme for newly graduated nurses. The programme provides each new graduate nurse with support and mentoring in their first year of practice.

The Minister of Health, Tony Ryall needs to fund a one year nurse entry to practice programme for 100% of new graduate nurses, now – it’s the only way to get the nursing workforce we want in years to come.

New Zealand is educating  nurses and then leaving large numbers of new graduates unable to find work in a clinical setting due to limited places on NEtP programmes and/or employers requiring them to “have experience” before they will employ them. In the latest ACE round 233 of the 645 applicants have jobs. That leaves 412 new graduate nurses without jobs. The risk is that some of these nurses will gain employment in unsupported environments where there are insufficient RNs to provide mentorship. And, sadly, some won’t get a nursing job at all. This is not just about employment it is about employment in a NEtP programme.

The issue of employment in the health sector for new graduate RNs and ENs needs urgent attention. NZNO supports the national nursing organisation’s (NNO) vision for “100% graduate employment by 2018 at the latest”(Report from the National Nursing Organisations to Health Workforce New Zealand, 2014).

Many new graduates approach NZNO seeking assistance with finding a NEtP position.

We’re asking Tony Ryall to come up with the funding.

And we’re asking you to sign and share the petition with your family and friends.

NZNO has 46,000 members and we’re hoping that every NZNO member and their family, whānau and friends will get behind this campaign!

Ma whero ma pango ka oti ai te mahi
If we all do our part we will reach our goal

You can find out more about the New Zealand Nurses Organisation campaign to support our new grads here: www.nzno.org.nz/newgrads


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A message to nurse managers

A message to nurse managers from NZNO acting professional services manager, Hilary Graham-Smith. Hilary has had a long career as a registered nurse working in primary health care and as a Director of Nursing in primary health care.take a chance on a new grad

“A sustainable, fully utilised nursing workforce is NZNO’s number one priority.

We also want a sufficiently funded nurse entry to practice (NEtP) programme so that 100 percent of our new graduate RN and ENs are employed and appropriately mentored and supported during their first year of practice.

The current nursing workforce has a vital role to play in that. Sadly, we still have a significant number of new graduates who do not get into NEtP programmes who are looking for work – they need our help.

We know that many of your work environments are stretched by less than adequate staffing and we hear many of you say, “We haven’t got time to preceptor new graduates”. However we all have a role to play as experienced nurses to make sure that our new grads are welcomed into the workforce; our collective experience and expertise will help to grow the nursing workforce of the future.

I encourage those of you who are in decision-making roles and involved in recruitment to stop and think for a moment before deciding NOT to offer a job to a new grad; so many of the responses to Keren MacSween’s story were from new grads who had been turned down because of a lack of experience.

I ask, isn’t that our role? – to make sure they get experience in an environment where they can not only learn from others but share their new knowledge. New grads don’t come without skills they just need time to grow their self-assurance and confidence in clinical practice.

Remember how that felt – being the newbie RN or EN? This is about nurses doing it for nurses and the wellbeing of the whole profession.

So think about it next time a new grad applies for a job in your ward/unit/ department – give them a go. Go on you know you want to!”


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Keren’s story

10173782_10152419167743426_5467771467065139208_nLet me introduce myself, my name is Keren MacSween and I am 43 years old. I am married and we have two beautiful daughters aged 12 and nine years. Around five years ago I made a bold decision to change my career direction (much to my husband’s surprise!) and retrain as a registered nurse.

I am a meticulous planner and managed to organise study, work and family and unfortunately, with all the sacrifices that had to be made, it was sometimes my family that came last. But with the support of my husband and my very understanding children we managed to get through four years of study, clinical placements and assignment deadlines along with the stress of exams.

Apart from the emotional sacrifices there have been huge financial sacrifices as well. As a family we have gone without to try and make ends meet. When I eventually had to give up work once I started the degree we had to find other ways to manage financially. While I am thankful that we are able to provide a home for our children the fact that we have not been able to pay any principle off our mortgage has been a strain on our marriage. Also the only way I could go back school and study was to apply for a student loan for the four years of study to reach my goal of earning a degree and a career. At the most recent statement this is around $36,000 and with no job prospects on the horizon there is no chance of that reducing in the near future.

We used to have a credit card, but that got out of hand and we have just recently managed to pay it off. I hated having to choose between getting petrol in the car so I could take the girls to a park or see family or buy milk and bread so they would have sandwiches for their school lunches. We are still living week by week and some weeks are harder financially than others. With my financial management I have been able to keep on top of the bills but that does mean living to a strict budget every week. This also has another effect on our meal planning, some weeks we do not know what we will be having for dinner until that day because I need to be vigilant on food and meat specials and are only able to buy on the day. But I am lucky to have grown up in an era where I have learnt to make or bake from scratch.

While still dealing with all this financial stress I have gained a qualification that I feel is not worth the fees I have had to borrow to pay for it. I am seven months down that track after gaining my nursing degree with no job or job prospects that are visible. Although I feel very lucky to have a casual support worker position within an organisation that provides for people living with a mental illness, this is a casual role and dependent upon regular staff being sick or on annual leave. While this has given some relief to the financial stress it is in no way full time employment utilising my qualification. What I am feeling now is desperation but in the same breath I also feel optimistic that there is a job out there for me, one that I can really shine in and show my qualities.

It’s an amazing thing an interview it’s where you as a candidate can show the recruitment team your qualities and strengths, this is very hard to do in a cover letter but a cover letter is the only way you are able to let the recruitment team know what they might be missing out on. I have had one interview in the last seven months out of more than 60 applications submitted. Also I have to note that not all jobs applied for have given me the courtesy of a reply positive or negative. And I feel that some have not even considered my application as soon as they read ‘new graduate’. I have changed my cover letter to ‘sell’ myself as advised and I have not limited myself to one clinical area or DHB region. Other advice given was to volunteer at rest homes or such places but as soon as they discover that I am an RN they do not want to take the risk. What risk are they taking? I am the one that could do something outside my scope as a volunteer and jeopardize my registration before I get a chance to use it. I am unable to work as a health care assistant (HCA) as DHB policy states this, although NZ Nursing Council stated that as long as I do work within the scope of practice as an HCA it should be alright.

Everywhere I look people want experience, but to gain experience you need to be working in a clinical setting. This is where the NEtP programme comes into play. The negatives to this programme are that there is only one way to get onto the programme and there are very limited spaces compared with the amount of new graduates every six months. Your other options are to apply through health care providers directly, agencies and casual pool nursing organisations. Downfall of this is that they all require proven clinical experience so will not even take your details. Applying directly to private hospitals and rest home with hospitals attached? Once again require 2-3 years proven clinical experience.

If I go back to the cover letter, how can you show somebody your maturity, your compassion and empathy along with your willingness to learn more and that because of the change in direction of career at a later stage in life, which you are in this career for the long haul? How are you able to show your passion in educating young and old about their health and health options that are available to them?

I am willing to travel up to two hours away from my home to make sure I have that experience, but this still does not help. I am getting desperate but am also optimistic there is a job out there for me; there has to be!


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Succession planning

passing the baton (1)Succession planning is a big part of solving our looming nursing workforce crisis. We already know there are many strands to consider when planning for a sustainable, home-grown and highly skilled nursing workforce.

At the moment we have, at one end of the spectrum, great newly graduated nurses, who are motivated, want to give something back to society but who are unable to find jobs. And for the new grads lucky enough to get a job, some of those positions are not suitable for a new grad unless there are appropriate supports in place, and they shouldn’t be forced to take them. For example, sole charge residential aged care roles, with no support or mentoring/preceptoring available – a pretty scary proposition for a first time RN.

At the other end of the nursing spectrum there are thousands of skilled, experienced nurses who have had long and varied careers who would love to be able to pass their knowledge on to a new graduate, but are not given the opportunity to.

No matter which way you look at it, the nursing workforce is in a quandary!

We need to value our New Zealand educated nursing workforce, and think about succession planning in terms of passing the baton – sharing the knowledge, skills and experience held by the existing workforce with new graduates. It’s just another way we can walk the talk of “growing our own”. (And there’s no doubt that a predominantly home-grown nursing workforce is what we should be aspiring to. But more on that in another blog…)

We need our experienced, skilled older nurses to be prepared to step up as preceptors/mentors; what they know and can share is vital to the development of the workforce.

If it doesn’t happen, where will we be in 2020/2035 when the workforce shortage really bites?

We need a sustainable health workforce plan that supports all our new grads into “nurse entry to practice positions” and at the same time releases our valuable late career nurses from enough of the work at the coal face so they can build the mentoring relationships with younger nurses that will strengthen our workforce and profession.

You can find out more about the issues on our website: www.nzno.org.nz/newgrads


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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.