This week the two rural organisations we work with on an ongoing basis welcomed 10 new graduate registered nurses. It is an exciting time for all. East Wimmera Health Service welcomed six new graduates and Rural Northwest Health welcomed four new graduates. These are the biggest intakes ever and are the result of a conscious decision to increase employment opportunities for graduate nurses. So to read this month’s ANMF magazine article ‘Generation Next: helping graduate nurses and midwives find jobs’ by Robert Fedele, I got thinking.
I have literally been around long enough to see it all! There is talk of the bottleneck currently and back in the mid to late 2000s. I remember the bottle neck in the early to mid 1990s. I was coordinating a graduate nurse program in a large public multi campus aged care facility in Melbourne and, we conducted a support program for unemployed graduates. So, I have some advice.
Read the ANMF article if you haven’t done so already. There is some very sound advice for third year nurses, especially from Professor Duke regarding alternative options to acute care. Watch this Blog for further thoughts on why you should consider a rural graduate year.
If you are a graduate without a graduate position, take note of Tori Burek’s experience. Her story of perseverance and soul searching is heartening and she made some very smart decisions during her six months of searching.
Here are my thoughts:
- Pursuing learning opportunities is an excellent strategy. It will help grow your knowledge and skills, and gets you into a different physical and head space (and out of those tracksuit pants!).
- If you attend face to face sessions, you will meet other nurses from a range of health services and settings. Networking during the breaks is a great way to find out about settings you may not have considered, which health services are looking for extra staff, and is a way to meet potential employers in an informal setting.
- Continuing your education while you are in that State of limbo looks good on your CV. It says that you are persevering and making good use of your time.
- If you are working in a position that is not nursing, think about the skills that you are developing that are relevant to a nursing role and emphasise these on your CV and at interview.
- If you come from a rural town that has a local health service, consider making an appointment to see the Director of Nursing or Director of Clinical Services to enquire about attending the education sessions so you can keep developing your skills and/or joining the casual bank.
- Many health services have mid year intakes so start contacting places now to find out what opportunities might be out there.
- Keep in touch with your nursing school regarding adhoc opportunities. When positions become available during the year the local universities are the first places I contact.
- Consider reapplying for a 2017 graduate year. While you won’t get an interview in the first round of Nurse Match (I am speaking from Victoria), you can be considered for interview for second round offers. Everyone in the industry know that it can be tough out there. So be proactive this year and show potential employers what you are made of and what you can offer. You will be older, wiser and more committed than ever to being an exceptional nurse.
- However, if this experience has made you rethink your career in nursing, look at your undergraduate degree as a foundation rather than as a failed decision. Many university graduates do not end up in jobs that are directly related to their undergraduate degree. Consider career counselling to help you find a path that leads to a fulfilling role and may even lead back to a career in nursing down the track.
And for my final word – In the early 2000s I coordinated a ‘Return to Practice’ program because we had an acute nursing shortage. One of my students had been a ‘casualty’ of the 1990s bottleneck. She spent eight years in retail, but she never gave up. She grabbed the opportunity to fulfil her ultimate goal of being a nurse and the profession is better for it.