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Jobs hard to come by despite shortage

What happens to nurses who don’t get a job when they finish their degree?

Despite a shortage of nurses across the country, reports have emerged that some are still struggling to find employment.

Just 222 of the 800 nursing graduates who applied for positions with Queensland Health received a position as part of the mid-year intake this year, the Courier Mail reported. This was confirmed by a Queensland Health spokeswoman.

Despite the number of university enrolments for nurses continuing to rise, the issue of graduates finding work placements has been raised on a number of occasions.

During a discussion at the recent RCNA Nursing Summit on what needed to be done to develop a sustainable workforce, one nurse gave the example that a major Brisbane hospital received 800 applications for 20 graduate nurse positions.

“How can we have a shortage of nurses and not have jobs for our graduates,” she asked.

There was also concern about what happens to nurses who don’t get a job when they finish their degree.

Kym Sykes, director of service and workforce planning, with the Victoria Department of Human Services said there could be a number of reasons for lack of graduate nurse places.

“Sometimes it is a distribution issue, with the available jobs where people don’t want to go to,” she said.

Money was another. “Some services will only offer graduate places if they receive government funding. While this may be short-sighted, funding issues are a reality.”

Experience, or lack-there-of is also believed to go against graduate nurses, according to a number of nursing forums where graduate nurses have vented their frustrations.

“I graduated in November 2009 and have no nursing job as an RN. To get any job I need experience and to get experience I need a job as an RN. Although the government is advertising for more nurses on television they fail to tell you that they want experienced nursing staff,” wrote one nurse on 2 July on Nurse in Australia forum.

In Queensland, 54 of the state’s 166 hospitals provide graduate positions.

“From next year, a new strategy will be introduced to district, which is expected to result in employment of more graduates, particularly those who are Queensland residents,” the Queensland Health spokeswoman told the Courier Mail.

Creating placements outside of the hospital setting could provide a solution to creating an experienced workforce, said Sykes.

“Not all nurses work in hospitals and with a greater focus being placed in primary health care and prevention it’s important that we attract more nurses into different setting,” she said.

“If we don’t train people outside hospital walls, we won’t get people working outside hospital walls.”

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