This is a guest post by Peter Kwong RN. Peter was recently an intern with NSWNMA in the Union Summer program. He was going to write for Nurse Uncut about his experience as a union intern but the bigger story emerged that he is an unemployed new grad. Other states in Australia had serious rates of new grad unemployment in 2012 – is it spreading to NSW?
Send a message to health ministers about new grad unemployment.
My story starts in 2007 when I was an accountant and was made redundant in the recession. From 2008 to 2010 I was working casually. I was basically living with no income and moved back in with my parents.
At that time, I was very frustrated that I could not resume my career as an accountant because there were too many new graduates and a big pool of accountants with 10 to 20 years experience in the market.
The experience of unemployment is stressful, possibly leading to depression, self blaming and anger. I was constantly looking for casual jobs to maintain an income.
After long consultation with my family, I finally decided to change careers from accounting to nursing. So I spent two years studying fulltime at the University of Sydney (Master of Nursing graduate entry), hoping nursing could provide me with a stable career not affected by the economy’s ups and downs.
Peter rides the Union Summer wave with his fellow intern Katelyn.
At the end of the course I applied for new graduate positions at several Sydney hospitals. But for some reason I was unsuccessful in gaining a position in any of them.
I then found out that I am not on the waiting list of new graduates in NSW. So instead I have been applying for positions at NSW Health, private hospitals and in aged care.
However, the things that frustrate me the most are
· All public and private positions require one to three years of post-registered experience and as a graduate, where can I get the experience when I can’t even get a position?
· Nursing homes need RNs but they only want RNs for night shift, which again doesn’t help me because usually night shift RNs are in charge of 50 to 60 patients.
· I’ve even applied for agency jobs, but they said I have no experience and refuse to take any year 1 RNs.
I have applied for jobs all over NSW and interstate. But no luck so far – I keep getting ‘unsuccessful’ emails due to lack of experience. Sigh~~~
Trying to get a step up into nursing…
The sort of nursing I want to do in the future is community and aged care, specialising as a Nurse Practitioner in community nursing. I think this role would be very rewarding and would benefit the community. But first I need a job as a starting point or stepping stone to start a career.
It’s sad, but with current employment issues, with the government cutting nurses, there isn’t much I can do but put my dream on hold.
I changed careers for better security! But it looks like nursing is full at the moment. I feel like I am stuck with nowhere to go. It’s very frustrating. Did I study nursing with no job prospects? Was it a waste of time? And the government keeps saying we are short of skilled workers and need to employ overseas workers…
If you are also an unemployed new grad, comment below or send us your story: firstname.lastname@example.org
Postcript on Peter’s Union Summer experience
I was the Treasurer of the Sydney University Nursing Society when Tom Schrader suggested that I should join NSWNMA and see what the real nursing union does.
As an intern I got the chance to learn how NSWNMA provides services to members, learn about enterprise bargaining with a non-unionised age care facility and understand more about the legal and information services provided by the Association.
Peter helps student nurses sign up for free associate membership.
It was fun and surprising during my first few days of internship to be thrown into the deep end communicating to new graduate nurses in hospitals and student nurses at orientation days. At the end of the three-week program, I had a lot of insight into the function of the nurses’ union and as a future registered nurse I will definitely join and help spread the word to unite all nurses!