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Kiwi students Aussie-bound?

Pessimistic about job prospects in New Zealand, nursing students are looking across the Tasman.

A snapshot survey of Dunedin third-year nursing students shows most want a job in New Zealand but the vast majority are pessimistic about their chance of success, believing they will have more luck in Australia.

Seventy of the about 75 final-year Otago Polytechnic nursing students responded to the survey carried out in late August.

While 81 per cent agreed they wanted to live and work in New Zealand on graduation, nearly 85 per cent thought they would have to move overseas to get full-time work as a nurse – with Australia the most likely destination.

Only 53 per cent agreed with the statement ‘full-time nursing work for new graduates was easy to find in New Zealand’ and less than 10 per cent thought New Zealand had more full-time nursing jobs available for new graduates than Australia.

They also believe Australia could be more financially rewarding, with only 7.4 per cent thinking new graduate nurses in New Zealand would earn more than there Tasman rivals.

Otago Polytechnic survey initiator, Dr Jon Cornwall, from the School of Nursing and Dunedin School of Medicine, said the survey results of particular relevance to prospective employers were the high importance students placed on which city they lived in and how much they earned.

Nearly 60 per cent said the city they chose to live in was more important than the type of work and nearly 75 per cent rated income as more important than the type of work.

But what won out overall was where the job was, with 70 per cent saying the city they lived in was more important than income.

Linda Kinniburgh, head of Otago Polytechnic’s nursing school, said students were well aware that in recent years the district health board could only take on a third or less of local graduates and, while a number had gone to Australia in the past, she thought the trend had been less last year.

About 70 per cent of the cohort were in their early 20s, mobile and aware that new graduates could earn more in Australia.

She said she overheard a student recently talking about the strikingly different responses she got to her three new graduate place applications, with the Australian hospital being enthusiastic and proactive yet there had been no response from the New Zealand hospitals.

Kinniburgh said she was aware DHBs’ current financial situation and low vacancies made recruiting more difficult, but also noted Australian employers were quicker to have their marketing material available to students and were very proactive.

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