On the 5th October 2012, NSW Health announced the first round offers for 2013 new graduate nursing positions. This was the day I had been working towards for the last three years. The day I would find out if I had a job for next year. Yes, you can get a job as an RN outside of a new graduate position, but these are hard to come by and may not offer the same level of support and education as the new graduate programs. Receiving an offer would allow me to relax and enjoy the last few weeks of my degree, knowing where I would be working in 2013.
As you may have seen in recent media reports, there is a nation-wide shortage of new graduate positions. According to a ANF media release (http://anf.org.au/campaign/entry/stop-passing-the-buck) , Queensland is the worst affected state ; less than 10% of the 2765 nurses who applied to QLD health were offered new graduate positions. Tasmania is only slightly better at 30% and South Australia had 50% of graduates offered positions. 800 Victorian graduate nurses have been left without a job and the WA Health Department offered 827 graduate places but almost 1,400 people applied. Whilst figures for NSW have yet to be released, reports suggest they will also have shortages.
I had my heart set on working within Hunter New England Local Health District and had put the Greater Newcastle Cluster as my first preference. Within the GNC, new grads undertake 3 clinical rotations; 6 months at John Hunter Hospital, 3 months at Belmont Hospital and 3 months at the Royal Newcastle Centre, although other rotations such as rehab, mental health and community nursing are also available. For 2013, however, GNC only had 49 positions available. Considering the University of Newcastle alone would have over 100 nursing graduates, I knew the competition would be tough.
As you can imagine, waiting for the offers to be sent is very stressful for students, especially when combined with finishing clinical placements and major assignments at the same time. We were all eagerly awaiting our emails to let us know whether we had been successful at securing a position or not. From 9am, students began to receive their offers, yet my inbox remained empty.
10am came and went, 11am passed by, then midday, 1pm, 2pm – I started freaking out! So many of my friends had received their notifications; the majority of them pleased to be offer positions, and some unlucky ones who received more disappointing news. But I had heard nothing. Luckily, a wonderful friend pointed out to me that all the people who had received their news were within the Central Coast Local Health District and perhaps HNE had yet to release their offers. This kept me from going off the deep end at the clock ticked past 3pm.
Then at 3:15pm, I heard it – the little ding of an email alert. I literally held my breath and crossed my fingers as I opened it. It was great news – I had been offered a position with GNC! My first phone call was to my mum who has been a great source of support and encouragement over the past 3 years and next I called my dad who has been the editor of many of my assignments. Then of course I had to text every single person in my phone contacts to let them know!
For those unsuccessful in gaining a new graduate position – keep your head up. Now is the time to put those networking skills to good use. Contact the NUMs you have had clinical placements with during your degree, let them know you are looking for a position. If you have made a good impression and shown how hard you are willing to work, they will do their best to help you out. Don’t forget the private hospitals and aged care facilities, they have some great programs and often recruit only once the public system has sent out their offers. Finally, consider doing your new graduate placement at a rural hospital; these can offer great experiences.
As for me, I am so excited to be starting my career as an RN – I am already counting down the weeks till I start my new grad position. Maybe I will see some of you out on the ward – hopefully as colleagues, not patients!