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Acute frustration

Is the role of EN falling off the radar? By Disheartened EN/PCA

I am tired of constantly hearing about the plight of graduate RNs. I read many nursing magazines and feel the professional role of EN is disappearing from view.

In 2010, I was accepted into TAFE in the Fleurieu SA for the Diploma of Enrolled Nursing Div/2.

Being a mature-aged student, I juggled classes, placements, study and some casual work in aged care as a personal carer. This was it; I was living the dream.

I had been led to believe there was a shortage of nurses and we would be able to work anywhere once we were qualified. My life's ambition was finally in my grasp.

The TAFE lecturers didn't mention it was RNs the hospitals needed, not ENs. Disappointingly, the TAFE lecturers were so negative about the prospect of any of their students ending up working in the aged care sector that it became the class joke.

It wasn't long before I realised we country ENs have been left with barely a place in the system other than in aged care.

My placement hospital had me believe I would have a casual position once my registration with the board was through. That was over 12 months ago. I have had a few shifts at our local hospital as a PCA for difficult dementia patients or when PCAs are busy helping out on the ward. I was sure this would lead to a position in the casual pool as an EN but once again, I missed out.

It seems city hospital ENs or ENs with more experience are the preferred option for employment. I know young and old ENs trying to get an acute job and having to settle for aged care as they are overlooked locally.

My workplace just lost a young aged care EN to a Melbourne Hospital as that was the only acute job she could get.

I understand employers want experience but I feel my confidence wane as the year has passed, as I have not used the skills I learned on placement. I have completed my EN Diploma, medications and an IMVS placement, and have enrolled in the Advanced Diploma of Enrolled Nursing to increase my knowledge, but worry I am wasting my time.

I have been told the position of EN is being phased out. Is this true? Only one woman in our TAFE class is working as an EN. So I'm left with no confidence, and it seems there are no options for working in the field.

I have decided to take on more of a role as a PCA in the nursing home where I work and will not pursue my EN career in the acute sector locally any more. Who knows, I might move to Hobart and find a job there, but that's another story.

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