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Our grads more flightless than Kiwis

Australians are happier to stay home for work compared with nurses over the ditch. By Fiona Cassie

More than a quarter of New Zealand’s new graduate nurses were working or intending to work overseas compared with just 12 per cent of Australian graduates, a snapshot Trans-Tasman survey has found.

The different job-hunting trends were revealed in the first published findings of the Graduate e-cohort Study, which has been surveying graduates from the University of Queensland and the three New Zealand university nursing schools since 2009.

The recent article, ‘A glimpse of the future nursing workforce’ by lead researcher Associate Professor Annette Huntington and her team was published in the latest edition of the Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing. It looks at a sample of 60 New Zealand nurses and 51 Australians who responded to the first survey of nurses graduating at the end of 2008 – a response rate of about 25 per cent.

All of the New Zealand survey respondents were employed as nurses compared with 92 per cent of the Australian respondents.

Some 13 per cent of the New Zealand nurses were working in Australia (four in Victoria, two in Western Australia, and one each in Queensland and South Australia) and a further 13 per cent were intending to work overseas in the next 12 months (five in Australia, two in Canada, and one in the UK).

In comparison, all of the Australian nurses were working in Australia and only two of the Queenslanders had left their state to work in other state. But six (11 per cent) of the Australian graduates were intending to work in the UK Ireland in the next 12 months.

All the New Zealand graduates and the majority of the working Australian graduates were in new graduate programs, but only 6 per cent of the Australian graduates were in current postgraduate study compared with more than half of the Kiwis.

Both samples were nearly all female, and the average age was 25 for New Zealand and 23.7 for Australia, but the median age of the cohort was younger at 21-22, which was also reflected in their personal status, with the majority being single (68.2 per cent) and without dependents (84 per cent).

The vast majority of the respondents from both sides of the Tasman were working in acute care hospitals in metropolitan areas, with surgical/perioperative (17.8 per cent) being the most prevalent specialty area.

Huntington said the ongoing Graduate e-cohort Study now had four years of data to be analysed. New Zealand respondents were working across a wider range of specialty areas than their Australian counterparts, including mental health, primary health, and public health nursing.

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