Experience: I'm an unemployed new grad


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: nurseuncut@nswnma.asn.au

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!


  1. This is a problem in WA too. A young friend of mine who has recently graduated worked as an AIN during her uni studies but she has been unable to get into a grad program anywhere. She has now had to resort to returning to the nursing home where she worked as an AIN because she has no other income. The other side of this problem in WA is the number of visa nurses coming in, mostly from Africa and India. It could be construed that Australia does not want Australian nurses.

    • That’s actually true. Visa nurses have years of experience and as soon as they hit our shores they are getting paid as a first year RN and you won’t hear a peep from them, because i’ts still a heck of a lot of money they are earning compared to rates back home as an 8th year RN. They are more convenient and cheaper to hire than a new graduate RN fresh out of uni with no experience.

  2. Peter, it is a fact in today’s working environment, no employment is secure. When nursing moved to uni-based quals, away from hospital training, it was seen as a ‘two-edged-sword’. Clinical knowledge is required as technology and advanced clinical demands grow. Complex cases are a fact of hospital presentations.

    I strongly advise you to capitalise [an accounting term 🙂 ] on your diverse language skills. These are surely in demand, as too few comprehend cultural demands of many patients in hospital settings. Having a degree is not an insurance policy of employment.

    You switched. That demonstrates an openness of mind. Many don’t have this ability. Did you consider accounting in Treasury Dept either State or Fed levels?

    As retired nurses now, via NSWNMA we are forming groups to mentor, share, discuss and support all nurses, as most of us have minimum of 17-35 years hospital experience.

    NIGHT SHIFT:- Ask yourself this. Why did I not take that position? Most residents in Aged Care do sleep and require few RN admin meds given out. Other staff attend to ADLs or other needs, without demands of an RN. Don’t feel you are the only one on the floor.

    Peter, have you thought of gaining full Quals to take bloods on wards or in community? This simple issue of anatomy is simple and thus you get the foot onto the floor and can gain ‘work experience’. Once again use your language skills. Go seek at Community Health Clinics as to gain unpaid experience so you can build on it. Ask for cover letter to add to your CV/resume.

    WA: They are screaming for RNs in the mining sectors and in some remote regions. Good luck and hope this support opens wider aspects for you.

  3. ” …screaming for RNs in the mining sectors … ” Myth!

    The only jobs that are available are for highly qualified ‘multi-taskers’ – that is, RNs with the full suite of WA State WorkCover courses; formal quals in WHS and significant ED experience.

    A highly mechanised workplace environment, such as an operational mine, is no place for ‘new grads’. I applied a few years ago and was told twenty years experience means nothing. They want the precise quals for the job + experience before you set foot in the place.

    • This is true: the mines won’t touch a new grad, they want highly experienced and qualified occ health and rig-experienced nurses. Also, if you get a job in any of the mining towns (even in the state-run regional hospitals), if accommodation isn’t provided, you won’t make enough as a new grad to pay your monthly rent. Pick a town and have a look at rentals on real-estate.com.au – they will make your blood freeze!

  4. I graduated in 2010 and received an offer in the NSW and Victorian grad programs. I took the NSW offer, and most of my classmates also received offers of employment. During the application process, I found that a lot of new grads were applying to metro hospitals. These programs may have more places on offer but they also have a larger pool of applicants.
    The rural and regional hospitals have fewer places, but are certainly less competitive. The hospital that I work at now (in rural NSW) offers one new grad place each year. We had no one take up the offer in 2011 or 2012. I also noticed that there were a few unfilled positions in the Victorian program in 2011.
    The hospital I did my new grad program in had all their positions filled for 2011 but they also employed new grads outside of the program as ward nurses. These part time first year RNs were not officially in the program but were allowed to attend our study days.
    My advice to any new grad would be, don’t be picky. Apply to more than one state program. If you don’t get in, get on White Pages, write down phone numbers for every hospital you can find and start ringing their Nurse Managers. Have a copy of your resume up to date and ready to email. Ask them if there are any positions available (even part time or casual or temporary) for RNs on the medical, surgical or aged care units. Ask for a phone interview if you can, and be prepared to move at short notice (many rural hospitals still have nurse accommodation that you can live in short term).
    The hospital I work at now has had three RNs retire in our aged care unit in the last 8 months. The most recent open position had many, many applications from overseas nurses and it remains unfilled.
    If you are still looking for a job Peter, I bet you would find one here. You wouldn’t be limited to working in the aged care unit either. If you told them you wanted general nursing experience they would almost certainly rotate you through the wards as they have done with me and the other junior RNs. Best of luck to you!

    • A lot of people will reply to us new grads who can’t get job and say ‘well, why don’t you go rural? There are so many opportunities in rural nursing!’ Considering that most rural hospitals only take one new grad every year, there actually are not “many” opportunities out there. But I find it interesting that you write that for two years in a row your hospital hasn’t had a new grad. I am on the waiting list for a job….why hasn’t that hospital contacted me and offered me something then? I’d take it happily. I think a lot of employers looking at that list would see that I would like to be placed in ED, ICU, theatres, as per my preferences. I think one of the downfalls of the system is that employers seem to think that I wouldn’t possibly want any offers from other areas. These preferences are only an indication of where I would love to be, not a restriction on what offers I would be happy with. The eligibility list will be deleted at the end of June every year, to make way for next year’s lot of graduates. If there are jobs out there, they need to bloody well make use of the people who are still on that list. By this point in the year, we are desperate for anything!

      • I believe the people on the ‘list’ are only the ones that applied to that specific hospital. Not every hospital in the state will automatically see that list and say yeah, here’s someone we want. A common mistake of many applicants.

      • I hope you managed to find a position since you commented here Gloria.
        It is tough to find work, but there really are many opportunities, you just need to think outside the square.
        You don’t actually have to do a grad program. A lady I work with just scored a ward position after missing out on a grad position. You just need to be proactive.
        As James said, only the hospitals in your preference list know you exist and if they have an empty spot, they don’t always rush to fill them.
        It is also more difficult to find a position when you list ED, ICU and theatre as preferences. These departments are looking for special people and many rural and remote hospitals don’t even have an ICU or theatre.
        Most employers want someone who has a good grasp of the work nurses do, before specialising. And that usually means doing the hard graft on the wards and getting your time management skills and basic nursing skills down pat first.
        If you’ve scored a job, congrats!

    • Hi Emma, This is really great, useful advice. I realise you posted this a year ago but I am in the same situation, newly graduated and with no job as yet as an RN. Can you please tell me the name of your hospital? I would like to apply for a position there.

      Many thanks, Crystal

      • Hi Crystal. I have since moved on, but I was working at Leeton Hospital at the time I wrote the comment. The hospital I did my grad year in was Albury Base.
        Please don’t lose hope. There really ARE many opportunities out there for grads. You just have to do the hard yards and look, not sit back and wait for people to call you 🙂
        A woman I work with currently missed out on a grad year this year and was just employed in a vacant RN position, so it does happen! You just have to find the right hospital and be willing to go anywhere.
        Check eRecruit daily for RN positions and ring the contact people to ask if they would consider a first year.
        Best of luck! Look me up on Facebook if you want any more info 🙂

        • Hi Emma,

          I was reading the thread and surely it motivated me. I am in the same boat as Peter. I graduated 2012 but I can’t find any position. I’ve been applying all throughout the state but no luck. It’s been three years now since I had my registration. It’s very frustrating but still, I’m hoping to be hired. Thank you Emma!

          • I completed a GNP in 2013 and was not offered employment afterwards. I needed to take two years off to become the primary carer of my mum. Now two years have passed and I cannot get any work as I only have one year’s experience two years ago. It makes it so hard to get anywhere in nursing. What are you going to do Phoebe? I am interested as I am in the same boat.

          • Hi Phoebe, I graduated around the same time as you, applied to WA,Vic and Qld where I lived at the time, to no avail. Moved to Melbourne 2013, still searching, it is really challenging.
            I have been working in aged care since. Am relieved to find this forum,I really was starting to feel alone in this struggle.

  5. I am one of the many new graduates who missed out getting in to the New Grad program. My EEN registration and clinical experience of at least two years did not make any difference. I was told I am on the list for a future call. I was very disappointed and disheartened. Three years of hard work, and all those clinical placements meant nothing for the employers. I have since applied for many RN positions but I was told I have to have at least one year of post grad experience. I also called my previously employed nursing agent and they gave me the same answer.

    “Sorry, yes you worked for us as an EEN, but as an RN you have to have one year of post grad experience, we can’t employ you.”

    So I went to see if I could have a chance with nursing homes, but I had same obstacle. Nursing homes also looking for experienced RNs, not for new grads. If I am not given any chance how can I get this one year experience? It sounds very unfair.

    I created a Facebook page for new graduate nurses called “New Graduate Nurses say ‘Give us jobs'”. Please come and ‘Like’ us. Thank you for your support.


    • I agree, unemployment is a depressing process. I’ve been to numerous interviews with NSW Health … they are all unsuccessful and they know that I am a new graduate nurse. All the interview questions they ask are for experienced RNs. I have trouble answering the question because I don’t have the experience to reflect on.

      Nevertheless, I have just “Liked” the page you created.

  6. Bea,
    Simply put, are you prepared to travel in Australia? If so, look at the ACT, or Northern Territory or Alice Springs. Are you open to indigenous nursing prac to get these required hours completed? Take a real good look-see.

    Or see if the Army / Navy / Police will give you space… They all need nurses. Let’s know what you reckon. It’s your life, your future. Remain positive.

    • Just going through this thread …

      Ken, you have no idea!

      The ADF is the most competitive employer of RNs in Australia!

      Have heard of the term: ‘best-of-the-best-of-the-best’?

      ADF Nursing Officer is so competitive because it is a nationwide recruitment process, that will have an applicant in Sydney competing against an applicant in every other capital city in the country.

      Really, your advice to new grads is out of touch, you are only giving them hope that is unrealistic.

      … and yes, I’m not helping either (although I did offer a helpful suggestion further down this thread).

      New Grads need to be realistic about the failure of State and Federal Govt.s, to include myths in Nursing, such as the so-called ‘Nursing shortage’, and ‘go and work rural’ etc. etc.

      • With regards to applying for the ADF – I only recently went for an interview with the ADF for a nursing officer position and was once again told that I don’t have enough experience. I graduated in Feb this year and have still not been able to get a grad position.

      • Regarding the ADF, I certainly would not recommend a new grad to join the army unless you actually want to work in the defence forces. Reason is that the training is not of the standard given to hospital trained staff. I am ICU trained and we would always get ADF nurses working supernumerary with an RN to gain and improve on clinical skills that are not offered in the ADF. Good career path down the track but strongly recommend gaining clinical knowledge and skills in the hospital first.

  7. I’m very, very sympathetic for Peter. The graduating universities only use national requirement figures supplied by DOHA, and don’t correlate their intakes and potential outputs with state or local demand: it’s an unintentional forced migration. What’s really salient here, is that 40% of nurse graduates are in the mature age bracket, and have partners, children, houses and lives in the city they are training in, and aren’t prepared or able to relocate, so competition for local jobs is fierce (especially with the Tas government cutting its health budget by $400 million last year).

    A couple of good examples of bad situations: I wrote a graduate program for a company three years ago: it was a small company and we only had one position available. The applicant we accepted was superb, I mean really top notch in every respect and never failed to disappoint. But our program was their 72nd job application since gradating!

    Another example is from my days in Tasmania. The uni of Tasmania (UTAS) has a HUGE nursing school, in 2014 they expect to take in over 1300 students for first year, last year they took in 1100, and they now enjoy a very low attrition rate: gone are the 50% loss days, now it’s like 15%. But, the total number of graduate positions available in Tasmania every year: 77. And with so few permanent positions available in the state (the government has closed down the casual nurse bank for the state department of health), staff just don’t move, and it’s very common to come across staff that have spent their entire working career in a single entry-level position.

    Early this year a local provider/grocer made the news when they advertised for a retail position and received over 400 applicants from new graduate nurses around the state.

    So, good luck Peter, but my advice would be to bite the bullet and be prepared to travel where the work is. I worked in the NT for a number of years, and can heartily recommend Darwin, Katherine, Tennant Creek and especially Alice Springs as fine places to work and live.

  8. There are plenty of jobs in rural areas if you look. What a wonderful way to gain experience out in the country. Lifestyle and most country folk are much nicer than city folk.

    • I have rung Alice Spring Hospital and many rural places in NT. They all asked me, have I finished my new graduate program. It’s still hard to get your foot in the door without 12 months of experience.

      • Peter, a lot people must understand that we all are individual, people are saying things without thinking of the individual circumstances. One answer does not ft all.
        That’s all I would say, do you know what each of us is dealing with? Do you know our personal circumstances?
        People who make comments and jump in to presumptions that we reject any possibilities to get a new grad job, they are missing the entire point.
        Bottom line is there are not enough new grad positions to employ all graduates … and this problem is growing by the end of each year.
        Thank you Peter.


  9. Hey Peter, I myself am an unemployed new grad. I feel the pain of finishing but no experience. I feel very sad and hard done by the system.

  10. Hi Peter
    We have just commenced two new graduate RNs, who will require mentoring, coaching and nurturing. The long term benefits for our facility are yet to be measured, but early signs are very positive. This is one way we can ensure RNs continue to work in the aged care arena and additionally provide support to New Grads who are looking to gain both experience and knowledge through opportunities. I wish you all the best with your endeavours.

  11. I was not able to get a new graduate program despite my EEN experience in the hospital. I applied for casual positions and passed the interview but because I have no RN experience, I did not get the job. So instead of relying on Internet job ads, I rang up nursing homes and applied, so I got a job. I am working in two nursing homes now as a casual RN and also working in an agency if I like to earn more.

    • Dear Rosy, Lucky you, but on the other hand, I think as a New Grad you need to practice your skills in an acute care setting, that’s what we are trained for. Then you will be able to make a choice where you really would want to work in the long term, then you could choose a Nursing Home setting to continue your profession. Currently, you won’t be able to see and practice many surgical and medical procedures and cases that need medical interventions. Having work with three different places is a hard/ stressful situation for a new grad in the first year, don’t you think?
      I’d like to hear your feedback on this.
      Thank you


      • Dear Bea, If I should follow your advice, I would end up depressed and hungry. As I have said, I applied in acute settings but I didn’t get any. But I have option 2 which works well, so I got a job immediately after I got my registration. At least I have a post-graduate RN experience which I can put on my CV to apply for other positions in the future. And there are many things to learn also in nursing homes where I have done a lot of free courses sponsored by the nursing home.

      • Bea, clearly you have not spent a great deal of time in an aged care unit as an RN.
        I believe that experience in aged care as an RN is a great introduction to nursing. It gives one a chance to consolidate many of the skills they have learnt. Basic nursing care, pharmacology (because elderly people are often on many different medications), supervision and leadership, time management.
        We aren’t ‘trained for’ working in an acute setting. We are trained to be nurses and nurses work in aged care units too.
        I work in ED now. It has taken me almost ten years of hard work (4 as an EEN and 4 as an RN) to do what I originally set out to do. Not everyone is able to start out in an acute setting. If you’re not willing to work in aged care, then perhaps you’ve chosen the wrong profession, as it is the bulk of our work as nurses. And being picky about where you nurse in the beginning is not going to impress employers.
        Well done Rosy! I hope you have achieved what you set out to do in the last two years. Best of luck to you.

  12. I am an educator in a large Sydney hospital and I am appalled at the current state of new grad placement cutbacks. Last year the hospital where I work took over 100 new grads over the year, this year the numbers are in the 30s – as instructed by the MOH. I am ashamed that we are not allowing those new nurses to get the valuable grad year experiences that are so necessary – and I feel we have a responsibility as a professional group to these nurses, and to the people of NSW to ensure that they have trained, competent RNs who can look after the varying needs of a growing multicultural society! I wish we could take as many new grads as want to be here, but the hospital’s hands are literally tied by the MOH.

    Is there any news from the Union on what will happen for new grads next year, as we are fast approaching the time of year when we will be interviewing for new grad placements for 2014?

    • “Paige says: I am an educator in a large Sydney hospital and I am appalled at the current state of new grad placement cutbacks…”

      Thank you Paige, very well put, we new grad nurses are very frustrated, not with the hospitals, but we are frustrated with the clogged system which no one wants to do anything about and help to resolve this crisis. Yes, each year more and more new graduate nurses join the queues for the ‘New Grad’ waiting list; some of us, disheartened, leave the nursing profession altogether, because new grad nurses are under-supported and undervalued by the government health department decision makers.
      Why doesn’t the government get together with universities and resolve this problem? This is what we are asking, is it too much to ask?


  13. Fully qualified RNs with 10-18 yrs of experience; speak 3-4 EU languages. Perfect oral, comprehension of English, but find spelling such a hard area to master. 55% population can’t even spell.

    I asked NSWNMA to run English tests – na, don’t offer it. Readers, these capitalists charge $600 for every English test and there are 4 sections that require minimum pass of 7 out of 10. Spelling at 6.8 = FAIL even with 8.75 or 9 in all others. This is extortion to me, needs investigation, and Skinner should be forced to sit the same tests, just to see if she, as Min for Health, can get higher than 7 in all 4.

    Why won’t NSWNMA run them? It is an employment industrial issue I suggest and needs immediate attention. Brett Holmes, please set these in place.

  14. Talk about clogged system… I am now applying for the New grad program for 2014. Which will leave me an unemployed new grad for this year and probably two years… if I don’t get it next year I’ll feel very sad.

  15. That’s one ( out of the last five I think ) comments that I actually agree with you on Ken … Skinner and all politicians should sit these English tests in order to ‘run’ for selection.

    However, the issue remains – it’s not just new-grads who are finding it tough to get a Public Health nursing position. Despite anything in the above comments from others, Nursing has deteriorated in job security and has been raised so high for entry standards that without a min. of 12 months experience plus a post-grad qualification, you will simply be unemployable as an RN.

    Sure, occasionally you will hear of the very lucky few … but the majority will be forced into ‘agency’ work for a year. Even then, agency staff are also subject to the requirements of the engaging hospital.

    It is, quite simply, a lose-lose situation.

  16. First head for a bachelors degree in nursing. Plan on not working for the union or the government. Learn customer service and understand that you have two customers, your patient and your employer. There is one last thing you can do besides go look in the rural areas. Which is not a bad idea. Volunteer in the place you would like to work. Get to know people and see if you really want to go to work there.

  17. Someone with brains ought to sit down and work out a solution to this ongoing dilemma. The problem starts right back at how the nurses are trained (and it’s not their fault) in universities, very often by nurses way out of touch with everyday nursing. It is a shame to have RNs sitting waiting for a job. Why not employ them as permanent part timers with a portion of the other part time being mentored in some way? The problem is there are no brains at the top. They will never go and ask those employed what their thoughts are and act on their ideas.

  18. Wow. What a depressing post. And scary too. I’ve just quit an okay paid admin job to move into the ‘secure’ career of nursing. I have just enrolled in Cert in aged care and plan to study that and get work in an aged care facility by the end of this year, then gain my EN quals and work as an EN in aged care. Just a bit concerned after reading about some of your circumstances that I’m setting myself up for unemployment or underemployment. I really like the idea of community health and down the track planned on Completing my Nursing degree and getting a community nursing position. Someone please tell me I hhaven’t just killed off my employment prospects. I live in the Latrobe Valley (Victoria) and we have had over 200 applicants for the job ad to replace me in my admin position. Unemployment here is high and one of the reasons I have made this move is because hubby and I work in the same place, which has a history of layoffs. Spreading the risk, so to speak.

  19. I am an unemployed mum with a Dip in Counselling considering a career change and doing my EN Dip next year. I am now feeling disheartened and reconsidering this decision based on the seeming lack of jobs out there for nurses. I live on the Gold Coast, which has a very transient population and thought this to be a positive for the nursing field. Should I be thinking of a different career path? It’s very disappointing to hear all your feedback.

    • Lizz, This reply may be too late to be of any help but I would look at the positions vacant in your area. You are lucky to have the GCUH recently opened and always looking for staff, or so I am told. Job vacancies vary from place to place. Good luck.

  20. I just got an outcome letter for my app. Unsuccessful… And when I asked for feedback apparently out of high, medium, average suitability, I fit into average. Horrible, untrue and unfair news. I explained that I think my application was brilliant and that I’m a brilliant nurse. HR were very supportive and even deemed th whole thing as “rotten, really, isn’t it?”. I already work on casual contract, as an undergrad nurse/AIN, in two different major Sydney hospitals. One in mental heath and one med/surg… I’m doing th a.m shift in 6.5hours (but obviously up still, distressed, crying, beside myself and googling th whole new grad issue and how it’s shocking, really, isn’t it). :/ Anyway, on top of that, I have a few years experience as an AIN in aged care, including experience in the hostel, nursing home and aged care areas.

  21. Hi Jo, it’s so unfortunate that you didn’t get a job, I know it is very disheartening. The new grad offers for 2014 are in the process of being released and my expectation this year is that there will be far more graduates without job offers than in any years prior.
    We are told by our teachers and by employers that you do not need a new grad year to start nursing, however my experience trying to find a job without post-grad experience showed me that employers don’t want to go near you with a 10-foot pole if you haven’t had a new grad job. I hope that this year’s graduates continue to apply for non new-grad RN positions and hopefully employers will come to the realisation of the potential in you and that, with just a little bit of support and a little bit of training, you ARE in fact ready for the workplace.
    I would also encourage you to speak to your MPs – both state and federal. We cannot go on funding the education of new nurses without ensuring they can gain employment. It is too big a waste of time and money and a terrible emotional strain on a student nurse.
    I wish you all the best of luck!

  22. Hi Jo,
    My heart is breaking for you.
    I think you might be misinterpreting the high, medium, average label. I am sure you are highly suitable… But in such a competive environment you have ranked average against other applicants.
    I have currently applied to 27 GNPs. I have applied in every state/territory, for public, private and aged care. I have mainly applied for rural. The dream job I wanted (which was rural NSW) I didn’t get. I got my second preference. I am a distinction student, with a GPA of 6.25, excellent references from community care and hospitality, I am currently on clinical placement with a full patient load of eight patients… You are brilliant…. And so am I. But unfortunately there are just enough other students slightly better than us. A workmate of mine, with even better grades and experince than me, has got a placement that is her fourth choice, rural and it turns out only 27hrs a week (0.7FTE), so really I don’t know how we are rated…

    But I will tell you this, and it won’t help your physical/finacial situation… You are not worth nothing, you have acquired excellent knowledge and skills, I know that a few months of extra (but disheartening and bullshit) work will see you in the place you want to be.
    I will you all the luck in the world.

  23. I believe it is unfair that Australian citizens miss out on new grad when people from overseas are taking positions. I understand they move here to get a better life but come on it’s just not fair. They should minimise the university intake for nurses to mimic the amount of jobs that are available because it is such a disappointment.

    • Anne, come on… back to you. As an international new grad RN who is unemployed like everyone else here, I thought I need to speak out here. I see few people complaining about international nurses here. However, by the law, you guys are the priorities. It is hard enough for you guys to get a new grad program and it is even harder for us. Yes it is possible. Everyone knows the “minimum 1 year post grad experience required” rule. But here for international new grads, there is another rule on top of it. “Only Australian citizens or permanent residents need to apply or preferred”. It is just impossible for me to get a job here even though I have paid Australian university and immigration over $100,000 (yes, not 10k it is 100k) for the last 3.5 years of my nursing training in Australia.
      I understand that people want to blame others but in this case it is not the international nurses who helped maintain the Australian health care system when Australians didn’t wanna do the hard job as a nurse. Come on…
      University of Tasmania intakes over 1000 nursing students and the biggest hospital offers only 33 grad positions the same year. Do the math. It is not the international nurses’ fault. All we do is get used by the university to pay for the new buildings and get no opportunities to get a job after graduating just like you guys – no, even worse. What’s really to blame is the unfair and messed up Australian government system we have to blame, not the international nurses whose application won’t even be looked at over you guys. Hospitals state in bold letters that they prioritise Australians and permanent residents on the main page of new grad applications.
      So please think again and see what the real problem is. We are suffering probably more, not less. Can you imagine spending over $100,000 to be a nurse in Australia and never even be able to have your resume looked at by employers just because you are international?

  24. I have decided to quit nursing, because it has cost me nothing but money and this is destroying my life. I am a qualified RN who left nursing four years after I graduated because of the appalling conditions. Then when they said they had a shortage of nurses, no lifting and no bullying policy, I went back to nursing. However I have not been able to get a permanent job in over four years and the few jobs that I did get were temporary and I was treated like dirt in nearly every one of these.
    I can’t waste any more time or money completing education courses that don’t guarantee me a job. I wanted to have a future and I will never have this if I wait around for a nursing job.

    • Hi everyone. Just wanted to say it is awful what is happening but thank you for speaking out. I too am an unemployed grad nurse. I am mature aged with a mortgage etc to consider so I have my worries like everyone else. For the first time in years, despite paying upfront for my uni degree while working in aged care to finance myself and my studies without family support of any sort for years before even doing this course, I am contemplating going on the dole until I work out what to do. This is what this thing is doing to me.
      Too bad they didn’t tell us there are no jobs when they enrolled us in nursing school. Especially the crap clinical teachers and preceptors some of us endured along the way to get here by paying good money. Anyway I just want to say that as someone who already knows, I think you must all be awfully nice people to have stuck it out with this degree but were as naive as myself. I too am depressed and confused. However, good luck.

  25. I am just about to start my last 4-week placement to complete my nursing degree. I am mature aged, been in nursing as an EEN for 10+ years and I wasn’t matched in the recent Victorian computer-matching process. I am passionate about nursing and have loved the studying, now I’m wondering why I bothered with all the sacrifice I and the family have made. I may have a piece of paper at the end, but what good will it be if I don’t have a graduate position. I have sent in more than 10 applications for employment, had 5 interviews and I’m applying interstate as well, what else can I do to get that illusive graduate nursing position, keep trying I guess. Love to hear from others if they have any ideas.

  26. Hi guys!

    Yes, the exact same thing is happening to me. I have missed out on a graduate program. I feel if I knew this drama and that it was super-competitive I would never have started the degree a few years ago. I have applied privately to public and aged care homes. However, same as above, have been knocked back due to no experience. I have even been thinking of studying something else that I’m interested in like counselling. Hoping that would give me more opportunities for a counselling job if I have a Bachelor of Nursing degree behind me. However this is more money (added to the HECS debt and more time studying etc) which I can’t afford to do with a little 8 month old baby. I’m completely lost!

    Lizz, do you know if there is much work in counselling available?

    • Jessica,

      There is a new nationwide program in community mental health called Partners in Recovery (Google it yourself).

      You wouldn’t be employed as an RN, but rather a ‘support facilitator’.

      You may find this easier to get into as a ‘new grad’…

  27. Hi! I am currently applying for a nursing graduate program in NSW. And I have read all your comments and insights. Should I pursue my dream of being a nurse in Australia? I’m a Filipina and newly registered nurse with no experience. What are my other options?

    • Hi Jara,

      It depends on your residency status. Usually, Australians are preferred over international students for grad programs. What have you done so far? Are you licensed in your home country?

  28. Interestingly, a grad program I set up three years ago for a community nursing service has closed down. It was an outstanding program, with lots of study days and a great rotation, with a walk-in to a promotion at the end of the program. Lovely employer, nice staff, great client base. When I asked why they shut it down, they replied that three grads in a row left the day the program finished and given the money they spent on each grad in the program, they felt it was a lost investment and prefer now to recruit experienced community nurses only, which are hard to find. Pity.

  29. I see that Forbes this year ranked Nursing as number 3 of the top 10 over valued degrees in the world this year. Not because of the intelligence and dedication of the profession, but because for the disproportionate expectations in regards to overtime and labour.

  30. I think they should go back to training nurses in the hospitals. They wouldn’t need a new grad program and had a lot more practical experience. I’m hospital trained and I don’t regret it. You feel very confident when you enter the workforce, because you had been working there for 3 years already. I find it very good, that the nurses get a Bachelor degree, but they should never have changed it into a theoretical course. I had 3000 hours of practise during my training and the nurses here get only 800 hours.

    • I have been saying this all along. Hospital-based training seems so much more logical considering nursing is a practical job. Honestly, you feel like you know nothing at all when you step on the floor on your first day after two years of tertiary study – ha.

  31. Yeah, this is a huge problem in Perth too unfortunately.
    I’m an EN and studying my Bachelor to become an RN (no idea why any more). I have been unemployed for a while now that my grad program has finished.. Pretty much all jobs advertised want “2 or more years experience in the relevant field”.
    Well explain how I get those 2 years experience?
    When I was a student nurse I used to work as a restaurant manager and when I was doing my grad program I worked A LOT as well, but now I have no job and my savings are draining and I ask myself… why did I choose this career?
    I feel like telling all nursing students to turn back because it’s hopeless. I know I have the one year of grad experience but that’s NOTHING considering all of the experienced nurses out there. Why would they pick me with one year of experience when they can pick a nurse with 20 years of experience?

  32. The jobs-for-nurses situation in Australia is more negligent than anything else. It is atrocious that students are allowed to hand over money (lots of money!) to complete a course at university, with non-guarantee of the relevant job at the end of that time. 4-6 years is a big slice out of life!
    Hospital training guaranteed not only wages, but careers. If you didn’t ‘make the grade’ during your training then you were informed to ‘find an appropriate career’ before wasting too many years there. At the end, there was no concern about having ‘relevant experience’ as the full-time practical of four years overcame that issue. Moreover, all nurses had 4 years to develop a ‘loyalty’ to its training hospital, which gave all a sense of ‘belonging’.

  33. I recently graduated from nursing/paramedics. I was accepted into an ambulance service but turned down the offer due to various people encouraging me to do a newgrad program. I applied for various regional hospitals in NSW (all 8) and thought I had done well in my interview. However all the hospitals I applied for were in towns with unis with nursing, large interview pools and low intakes (one hospital had 70 new grads and only 5 new grad positions) – all the ones that got the positions had worked there in various positions, AINs, ENs and porters. So unfortunately I got a letter saying I had not gotten a postion.
    I was lucky enough to get a job offer from the eligibility list in far west NSW and couldn’t be happier. I have ICU, ED and a remote stint as my rotations, they are paying for me to do a FLECC course. I have a very supportive new grad staff and they are very willing to help me reach my goals, I have learn’t skills many of my friends in larger metropolitan hospitals have not. Having an open mind and being willing to take on an adventure really might work in your benefit. The hospital I am at are always looking for staff and I think if you try hard enough you will find something.

  34. It’s not the hospitals that are making these decisions alone. It’s NSW Health.

    The State Govt must have a standard approach and secondary systems in place to effectively manage all levels of nursing experience.

    That means an effective way of employing, maintaining and retaining all levels of nurses – from new grads to 20 years plus – how to get them employed and working and how to keep them happy (loyal).

    Yep, I know … we’re talking NSW Health here … it will never happen!

  35. Hi all!
    I have been looking for a change in my career from a complementary health practitioner to nursing because I wanted a job that was stable, has career progression and variety. Finding this post was really disheartening because I thought (like most in society) that nursing had great employment prospects. I also read this post earlier:
    and was disgusted by how cut-throat nursing can be.

    For a profession that seemed to have a strong, united front (the union and yes we see the strike marches) it is sad that there is such lack of support amongst one another from within the system.

    I know two different issues. I respect the work that nurses do and was seriously contemplating entering the profession. It seems like a dog eat dog world on so many levels. How do nurses keep it together mentally and physically?

    Feeling sad 🙁

  36. I am post grad 5 years and am finding it hard to get a job, I have a part time job but want to be somewhere acute. One interview out of many applications, that was 5 weeks ago and they assured me I would hear either way. Obviously I didn’t get the job despite being told they were very impressed and I was just what they wanted. 2 days of interviews for 3 jobs, that is the competition out there! The whole system sucks, for grads and experienced nurses and I feel it has its basis in the opening of uni numbers. Cruel to allow nurses to graduate when the universities know there is a low chance of employment, all they care about is our money. I am now on the casual pool and drive an hour on the M1 to get to work but that is what I have to do to get a foot in the door. I feel so badly for the new grads and despair for the nursing students I see coming through the wards on prac.

  37. I just find it offensive that if you’re an EEN with several years or more under your belt that that experience is not even taken into account. From my own experience as an EEN3, I find that I have more complex workloads than RNs. I work as an agency nurse at the moment and virtually every hospital I go to, the attitude is “Oh great, we’ve got an agency nurse, we can give her the busiest patient load.” For example, one afternoon shift I did, I had 6 patients: 4 were day 1 TURPs, 1 one was a day 2 post hip replacement still with a PCA and IDC requiring full sets of obs and hourly IDC measures and I had a total knee replacement return from recovery at 1900 hours just when you’re trying to get meds done, plus 4 of the 6 were IDDMs requiring 1700 and 2100 BSLs.

    Now, I’m not complaining about this workload, but it was the heaviest allocation, yet the RNs had all independent patients and the few post-ops they had were simple ones who were able to get up and ambulant with little assistance. When I would, politely, ask for help, the RNs would say they were too busy, yet every time I walked past the nurses’ station they were sitting there socialising and showing each other Facebook photos. This situation occurs on the majority of my shifts in the town I live and work in.
    If I am going to be given allocations like this where my workloads are frequently more post-op heavy and/or just busier allocations than the RNs, it’s offensive and unreasonable that this experience does not count once I graduate as an RN, particularly since I generally work on surgical wards and have a lot of surgical ward experience.
    Please don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about being busy – I am complaining that on most of my shifts, I am always busy with these type of heavy workloads while the RNs sit on their backsides and refuse to help. Unfortunately, this is just how it works in the town where I live – people are born and bred here and rarely leave, they all know each other so the in-charge nurses ensure that their mates get an easy ride. And it’s not just because I’m agency, even when I worked in permanent jobs it was always the same. Even other nurses who move here all state the same experiences that nursing here is very different from other places.

  38. Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences. I missed out on the new graduate program too. Anyone know if we are still eligible to apply for another new graduate program, the next year and the year after? I am currently working in Aged Care (I have to be practical). Believe me, I had been applying to wherever I can… I thought I may have better luck because I have Permanent Residency status but nothing -it is very disheartening. I really want a hospital job. I need to have a good foundation of nursing, maybe my view is limited, but I just think it is a must to have an acute care experience (so far I learned a lot from working in Aged Care but in terms of clinical skills, it is very limited). Anyone here or you know of who got into a new graduate program who graduated some years ago? I know it’s silly but, most employers ask for at least one-year experience in acute care – I don’t have it unless I get a new grad… so back to my question… I graduated way back in 2012, can I still apply? I honestly don’t want to be stuck where I am – not that I am not grateful for having a job, but it is natural to desire career growth and development and most hospitals have better structure/support for nursing compared to where I’m at. Just my opinion…

  39. Every graduate from my university got a new grad position this year. All except one. Seriously, they did! We have a 99% employment rate. This feed is disturbing though and I feel disheartened for you.

    • Lisa, which University are you referring to? Sorry, I don’t believe it. It is simply not possible.
      How many graduated? Ten or a few hundred?
      More like hundreds than the ten or so new grads that are accepted in each intake.

  40. “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”.
    How does this role not help?
    OK, it’s nightshift (we all hate nightshift) but you have to start somewhere … and frankly if you are unemployed and broke enough you soon realise that every ladder has a bottom rung and this might just be it (and yes, I’ve been there!) Never underestimate the value of the RN in the nursing home (NH).
    NH nursing provides an opportunity to learn many valuable management skills, including delegation, time management, communication and planning skills.
    The RN on night shift is usually in charge of the shift and he/she is responsible for the co-ordination and delegation of roles for the support staff who support him/her on that shift.
    Many resthome residents are very unwell and have multiple co-morbidities so the RN needs to have clinical knowledge of various conditions & medications (sounds similar to working on the ward)
    The RN still needs to be able to recognise when patients are deteriorating and what to do to manage that patient, who to inform and how to arrange transfer to definitive care if the patient does not have an end of life care plan.
    That RN needs to know about the legal issues surrounding patient care in regard to the resident’s resuscitation status.
    That RN is very often where the buck stops if something goes wrong overnight, so he/she needs to know exactly what to do in a crisis.
    The RN working night shift in a resthome managing 50-60 residents is actually doing the same, if not more, as a ward RN on nightshift (no offence to ward nurses).
    All that and …. you get paid!
    True, resthome work is not always the start RNs want but sometimes it’s what they get and it’s what you make of the opportunity that determines what you gain from it. Resthome patients used to be retired folk who just needed some support; now these residents are older and have complex health issues, they are also increasing in numbers (we’re all going to be there one day, god willing!)
    I can guarantee one thing though, an RN with a year’s experience in a resthome on nightshift managing 50-60 patients is more likely to find work than an RN with no experience.
    Good luck to all the new grads, hang in there team because nursing needs a future and you’re it … until next year then it’s those new grads – pass it on!

    • Angela, I recently did an Agency RN night shift at a large nursing home.
      I was in charge of 150 residents (not just 50-60)!

      … and I’ve never been there before!

  41. This problem of unemployed new grads is all over the world, I am seeing. It is a monstrous disaster here in the United States. I was looking into moving to another country but I see it is useless as you are experiencing the same problems. Healthcare (in any part of the world) is a catastrophe. Good luck to all. I am there roughing it out with you guys as well :/

  42. Hi everybody. I am currently a third year nursing student, finishing my degree in two weeks. I have applied for my postgraduate position with NSW Health within the regional town that I live. I find out if I get the position tomorrow. I am so anxious after reading this forum. I hope you all managed to find a position!

  43. Hi all, Ive just read this post and I’m a facilitator in a public hospital, I feel for all the new graduate nurses coming through the system now. They work so hard only to be rejected or continue to be unemployed throughout what should be their new grad year.
    I understand that public health is limited in the amount of new grad positions they offer and universities are there to educate and make money, but why are universities allowed to take so many students when the graduates from last year, the year before and the year before that are struggling to get a job?
    The continued reply ‘you have no experience’ is getting ridiculous. How do they get that experience when there is no job for them?
    We as new grads were the lucky ones, there were many jobs around when I graduated. Let’s give them a fair go, there must be something we as nurses can do to help them get the experience.
    I would like an RN looking after me if I ever go to hospital.

  44. Graduating this year and I haven’t received one either, despite good grades and feedback from clinicals. I live in SA and have literally applied across the country. Currently on a waiting list in both my state and NSW. Hope Victoria will give me the good news next week. Otherwise I need a plan B 🙁

  45. News for all you unemployed new grads wanting a job but willing to take a risk. I work for Healthscope, who have a lot of private hospitals around the country. Healthscope have been employing new grads straight onto their casual nursing pools since July this year (2014). I’ve worked with several now and they are always looking for more. But be warned, you will receive no orientation, no “grad program”, no supernumerary days and no preceptor. You will be expected to hit the ground running and carry a full patient load and associated responsibilities on the busiest of wards.

  46. Hi, I am also a fresh graduate of nursing, 2014. I guess the situation is pretty much the same here in my country.

    I agree with you that it’s really frustrating and can even lead to chronic depression, especially if you don’t have much support people around you. I too am currently having a real tough time trying to land a job in the nursing field. Although I have read so much article about possibilities. I realized that the most powerful thing right now is networking. And sadly, I have poor connections.

    Nursing was really my dream since I was in high school and I wanted to pursue a more advanced achievement in the field of medicine. However, with my current financial situation, I had to put it off too. Right now, I may have a part-time job, but it is completely out of line with nursing. And little by little I am really feeling that I am losing chances and time, so I’ve been feeling a bit depressed.

    I really want to work as a nurse, but given the situation that I’m experiencing right now, I really do hate it because it feels like everything that I’ve poured into getting scholarships and awards were all for nothing. Everything just gets brushed off with a simple “you don’t have enough experience”.

    Hope I and all the others who have a more or less same feelings and situation as me will still have the courage to remain strong and not let our goal be devastated because of poor employment.

  47. I am another unemployed new grad from 2013. I have applied for over 100 positions in the past year. I got a job as an RN to only lose it 6 weeks later because of my lack of experience – at this job I was thrown in the deep end and and working solo and the doctors eventually got rid of me.
    I am now unemployed again and 6 weeks experience with no reference means nothing.
    It is so disappointing to work so hard at a degree and all for nothing.
    My registration will lapse and I cannot reapply because of currency rules.
    Goodbye nursing.

  48. I’m another unemployed new grad. Well technically, I am on the books of the aged care facility where I was working as a carer, but now that I am registered they have no positions and no shifts available.
    I was unsuccessful in getting a new grad position, even though I have good grades and great feedback from placements.
    I have looked at so many job ads that specify ‘experience needed’.
    I am the sole provider for my family and money doesn’t grow on trees.
    So I am getting despondent. I am also angry that universities are allowed to enrol so many students when they know full well there are not enough jobs when we graduate.
    What a waste of years of my time, my effort and my money this degree was.

  49. I have also joined the 700 that did not receive a grad year in Victoria 2015, countless interview rejections and now no jobs to even apply for because they state grade 2 year 2, so I’m not fitting the criteria.
    I’m interested to know if anyone has had a break yet? and what is everyone doing to keep their skills or knowledge up to scratch, as most of the courses require you to be employed?

  50. I have to say to all you new grads trying to obtain gainful employment, I do understand what most of you are saying, but we all need to start on the bottom rung of the ladder. It enables us to realise that the grassroots of nursing are just as important as every other nursing position. Being a hospital graduate of 1976, I have to highly praise the system in which I trained as experience was gained over the years of our training. We were exposed to the various levels of acuity and responsibility according to the level of our training. I am very thankful to have trained in that era.

  51. Consider yourself lucky you can’t get a job guys – nursing is a terrible occupation, after 13 odd years every single shift I dream of getting out of it. I hate nursing now and so do many of my colleagues in private conversations.

    While you’re young go do something else and thank your lucky stars you avoided entering what can only be described as insanity as a profession.

    • Buy a book by an Australian nurse called Melanie Nightingale. It’s called ‘How to Get Out of Nursing’. Someone posted a link here a while ago. It’s not a career bashing book, but if you really want to get out of nursing, it tells you how to do it properly.

  52. Australia the land of training organisations and broken dreams.
    Far easier to import the workers, they are far cheaper, cannot move on and will not speak up.
    It’s not just nursing, it’s the whole system – PROFITS FIRST.
    I knew it was bad out there but come on Ozzies, it’s time to make a stand.

    Stop the foreign workers coming in and clamp down on the dodgy training programs and you might just get a foot in the door.

  53. I wouldn’t mind not getting a graduate year but when you know people failed their final 6 months of nursing and still got a graduate year, cheated on online tests and still got a graduate year, then it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. The stories coming out of hospitals in relation to new nurses are deplorable.

    • I finished my Bachelor of Nursing this year. I too went to a university that allowed students to cheat, paying people to write their essays, having other people sign their names for prac when they weren’t there. Yes my uni turned a blind eye to all of this and now these students who talked their way through lectures have new grad placements and have started them. I am an older student (39) who only ever wanted to be a nurse and have a secure future. Well wasn’t I stupid to listen to those lectureres sugar coating the whole industry. I have since graudated and can’t get a new grad. I applied at NSW Health and was unsuccessful, I immediately thought that my other hospitals that I chose on my preference list would pick me up and I would be allowed to have another interview. No…once you are unsucessful with NSW health you cannot apply for another new grad. So I rang them and they told me, Sorry you cannot apply for a new grad at any NSW health hospital. So now I can only apply at private hospitals or nursing homes. I have recently just been employed as an AIN again because I need work while I wait for my registration to come through. I’ve already been told by the agency that I can only go out into rehab which will limit my skills. I am so pissed off. I feel I want my money back.

  54. I have read every single post, so very deflating. Being a mature aged student with a young family to support makes me very nervous about nursing. I left behind 15 years in a shitty trades job as a mechanic for this, did I make a mistake? I’m not looking forward to competing with potentially thousands of people for a handful of jobs, come graduation time. I know in my local area health 400 applicants applied for 30 new grad positions! Maybe it’s who you know not what you know?

  55. So many depressing stories of new grad unemployment pain!
    I left behind 15 years in a shitty trades job as a mechanic for this.
    Do nursing they said, plenty of jobs they said, work anywhere they said…
    I’m not looking forward to graduation then if the stories I’m reading are true.
    Last year in my local area health about 400 odd applicants applied for about 30 or so new grad jobs in one public hospital. I have no experience in health previous to starting my RN degree. What chance do I have?

    • It appears that not all graduates are lucky to get a new grad position in hospitals. For mature graduates, that chance becomes even more out of reach. But there are nursing homes, community nursing and GP clinics, which are more accessible for new grads.

  56. Sorry to hear so many people not getting grad programs after finishing UNI, how times have changed. I graduated from uni approx 10 years ago. Back when I graduated, grad jobs were plentiful, I received 10 offers for various grad programs and had hospitals begging me to join their grad program (both priv and gov). I work in a specialist area of nursing in which demand for experienced staff is relatively high and tolerance of newbies is low. I would agree that unis are just churning out new RNs without any regards for employment prospects. Would agree that uni lecturers are out of touch with the real world of nursing. State govts have cut back funding in all areas, including employment of new staff, especially graduates. If I had to live my life over again I would not go into nursing for the following reasons:

    (1): Bullying- Nursing is an extremely bullying profession. Nurse on Nurse violence is out of control in most hospitals despite these wonderful policies about “no tolerance of bullying”. There are several books that have been written about this problem…ie: Why nurses eat their young… and a book called “Toxic Nursing”. I would describe my grad year as “hell” and the worst year of my life, due to bullying and a hostile work environment. Hey but I survived just. I am a senior RN and still have to battle the “bullies”, who are often not senior to me, often junior to me.
    (2): Poor and often toxic cultures within hospitals and units- Hospitals and unit managers tend to cover up problems, ignore problems and many hospital managers are not trained to deal with human resource issues or many other issues faced by their units.
    (3): Everyone is too busy covering their own butts and trying to save their own jobs and blame everyone and everything else.
    (3): Shift work-Takes years off your life.
    (4): Burnout rates are high due to high workloads/unfair workloads, poorly run units, lack of resources, lack of sleep, poor rostering practices, bullying and toxic staff.
    (5): Unit politics, pecking orders, favoritism etc. I have seen nursing staff physically and verbally assault each other over workplace grieviences that managment fail to deal with because it is all too hard or their friends outside of work with the problem employee or they simply don’t care. Have seen people destroy other people’s careers through false or misleading allogations (both nursing and medical staff). Have seen people investigated and destroyed from lies. Have seen people have nervous breakdowns.
    (6): Seen new grads in my specialist area get treated badly and they eventually got “fired”, through non renewal of their contract. Only 2 grads hired in the 5 years I worked there and they both got the bullet.

    (7): Stress of dealing with the politics of hospitals/units and toxic staff.

    I constantly move from hospital to hospital (usually don’t stay more than 12 months), trying to escape from the above mentioned problems of nursing. The longest I have stayed at a hospital was 5 years (which was a huge mistake) and I quit recently and got another job due to bullying, bitching, dysfunctional, toxic and unsafe work environment amongst both the nursing and medical staff. The medical staff infighting was even more severe, cruel, unethical, illegal than the nursing staff, which was to say the least was appalling and inhuman.

    • Hi Florence
      As a student nurse, I can validate what you said. Politics and bullying happen everywhere in nursing and medical fields. I became a victim of the toxic many times and I felt like my cofidence was lowered to an extreme. Instead of being there for patients, most nurses (if not “all”) let their vices get in the way. It has reinforced my belief that the bullying culture will always be a part of nursing. I regret choosing to study nursing at my uni. It is partly because I was too young, too innocent and lacking information about the real world of nursing. Nobody was there to give me a warning. Now, I am close to finishing my Bachelor of Nursing. And you know, it is not worth giving up when you are nearly there. At least, if I don’t want to continue doing nursing, I still have a bachelor degree and can apply for relevant work. Thank you for helping me realise the bad karma in nursing. Well, people can earn good money if they go into nursing. However, they gain one thing and they lose another, which is their peace and happiness. Regards

    • Florence (ha ha), you sound like the most insightful nurse I have ever met. Years ago I dispensed with workplace loyalty in favour of my own sanity and self respect. Nursing is a bit of a sheltered workshop for the dysfunctional and no matter how many surveys are done or how much whining is done, it’s never going to change. I’ve been a nurse since 1978 and it was no different back then, anywhere in the world. Don’t stay anywhere for more than a year, don’t get ‘in’ with any cliques and treat work as work. Stay sane by leaving it behind you at the end of every day and going home to normal friends and family. Take frequent holidays and when it gets especially burdensome, take a year off and be a barista or something fairly simple and fun.

  57. Amen! I can vouch for the medical staff sabotage being even worse than that found between nurses. I ended up dropping out of medical school after being treated like a leper, targeted by what could only be described as a ‘Kangaroo Court’ (where peers could anonymously smear your reputation with lies about ethical misconduct), etc. When a former peer told me things got nastier later in the course, I was completely stumped, thinking ‘How on earth could it be worse? I nearly had a mental breakdown!’

  58. Thanks to those who responded to my post. For years I thought I was the problem, but slowly worked out it was really a toxic profession. I like my job, but loathe dealing with the bullying, manipulation, crap managers, lies and crap behaviour of so called caring people who spend all day throwing each other under the bus wheels. Nothing caring about a toxic nurse or doctor, they are out to advance their interests and if you happen to be in the way, you become an endangered species.

    If you attempt to expose ill-treatment of colleagues or patients or any sort of problem management does not want to deal with, you will be crushed by hospital administrators, usually nurse unit managers and directors of nursing, but have seen toxic HR and admin staff at it as well. They will attack your professionalism, your integrity, your personality, your mental health and your career. They will burn you to every agency that you might take your information to.

    By far the worst thing they will do is to accuse you of the very things you are trying to expose. While they will try to ignore the issues you are raising, they will pursue every opportunity to attack you. You will be sacked. you will be referred to the police. You will be referred to whichever professional registration board applies to you, in an attempt to prevent you from ever working again.

    In my 10 years as a nurse I have seen the nasty side of the human race, they are doctors, nurses, HR and hospital administrators.

    • Hi Florence
      There are many cases like yours that are exposed within the NT Department of Health. Everyone here can search it on Google as I remember the scandal was publicised on the NT News. I think that kind of bullying should be stopped for the public interest.

      I am myself a student nurse who was a victim and witnessed his fellow students being bullied by clinical facilitators. I can understand your emotional pain and suffering because I was in your situation. I hope you have found peace for yourself.

      • I worked in the NT Health Dept about 5 years ago. Found them great, had no issues, well run unit with great opportunities. Very little toxic behaviour in the unit I was in. Still friends with them till this day. However, I am aware of the public records surrounding DOH in the NT. If Darwin was not so expensive to live in and isolated I would go back. However, QHealth is a totally different animal. Bullying, bitching, bad behaviour, bad management and cover ups. I ain’t friends with anyone in QH…

  59. Hi everyone,

    I recently completed by Bach of Nursing after four years. I have only applied for one grad program. I went for the interview and felt very confident that I had the job. But today I received news that I was unsuccessful. I am really not sure if I should even bother applying for any further grad programs. I am a mature age student. After completing 6 months of placement in several hospitals, I really don’t like the hospital system. Most nurses depend on the student nurses to help them (as there is barely an AIN in the hospitals in Queensland) but yet treat the student nurses like dirt. I am considering nursing homes because community nursing is where my interest is. Thank you for all the comments here because I agree with the majority of these comments.

  60. I believe that community nursing and nursing home is the only option you have as a new grad nurse who has not been selected for new grad program. That’s a bitter truth.

  61. Thank you for everyone’s input, since I am the person who started the thread. Don’t lose hope even if you don’t have a new graduate position. I have been working in the casual pool for nearly 2 years after graduating and have finally secured a permanent full time position. I guess you can start doing casual pool first then hopefully you will be absorbed into the ward.

    • Hi! Peter, congratulations firstly. Me too, just graduated last year, until now have not been able to secure an RN fulltime job, which is a big concern.
      Any advice on the casual pool you worked in? Did you work as an AIN still or RN?

  62. Congrats Peter, I graduated last year and still couldn’t get into any hospital. I can’t even get into casual pool cuz I don’t have hospital experience, which is very frustrating. Any advice on how to get into casual pool without any RN exp?

  63. If this thread isn’t enough to turn people off nursing for life, I don’t know what will. Two years into my degree and I have already worked with a bullying, degrading and totally incompetent nurse during my placement. I almost quit on the spot because if this is the culture of nursing, then why bother. It’s really put me off working in a major hospital.
    Reading this thread has just made it worse.

  64. Have you thought about nursing in the UK?
    We are desperate for nurses here!
    I have a full time post at my Care Home with in house training.

  65. Even you have new grad TRN experience, it doesn’t mean after your TRN you will get a job. That was what I have been told from the hospital.

  66. Hi everyone.
    I am in a similar position. I completed my Bachelors Degree in Nursing in 2015 and the only exposure and experience I have as a nurse is that of an AIN. I wasn’t successful with the new graduate program and since graduating, I’ve been applying for positions that all ask the same thing: MINIMUM 1-2 years of nursing experience (mainly RN). What am I supposed to do? How can I get the experience I need if ALMOST no one out there is willing to give me a shot? I’ve tried nursing homes, private hospitals and even agencies, but even then they still ask for a minimum of experience. If things continue like this, I may have to go back to university to do postgrad Masters, BUT WHAT DO YOU KNOW?! They need 1 years of working experience for the postgrad courses TOO. Did I just waste my time doing nursing? I am highly considering going back to university doing an entirely different course.

    • Are sure that you have applied everywhere? You can find graduate work in hospitals but make sure you are not picky when it comes to areas like orthopaedics, hospice and rehab. Good luck!

      • I’m more than positive that I looked everywhere. I’m not even picky with when it comes to fining a job at this point. The agencies that I’ve applied for recently have all been telling me the same thing. You need experience. Some agencies are lenient and only ask for 3-6 months experience, but I don’t even have that. I’ll keep looking, but the way things are going, it’s not looking very promising.

        • Have you tried applying for rural jobs? I heard from some friends/graduates who just emailed the hiring manager/department, expressed their thirst for learning and nursing, were asked to forward their resumes and finally offered jobs. If you’re willing to move to rural and obtain that 6-month experience, things may get better.

  67. I had no idea things were so bad for new graduates – it is a depressing picture. I’m an RN/RM of 20 plus years experience and the only hope I can offer is hopefully this is a cyclic pattern. With the average age of a Nurse / Midwife being 50 something hopefully retirement kicks in. I have loved my very varied Nursing career and so was encouraging my daughter to consider nursing – after reading of your experiences I certainly wont push in the nursing direction. I sincerely wish you success for all of your hard work – especially those who have balanced kids or work with their study to earn their degree – you’re the kind of dedicated people needed in the profession.

  68. I am an Indian male, willing to do Bachelor of Nursing in Australia. Should I go for it?
    What will be the scenario after three years, that is after completing my Bachelors?
    Would I get a job easily?
    Do they prefer females for this job? or males are equally preferred?
    And what about getting a permanent residency visa there?

    • No one can predict what will happen after 3 years. If you are not a permanent resident or citizen of this country, I would strongly advise against studying nursing. International students are their last choice when it comes to employment. If you read the replies / comments on this page you will find that there are numerous unemployed local grads so you getting a grad position would be nothing short of a miracle. Having said that, if you have a background in nursing, it may not be that difficult to get a nursing position. Hope this helps.

  69. I’m currently an EN working within aged care and in my final year of RN studies. I’ve been searching online for job opportunities for grads. Multiple results have come up even stating that there are over 100 vacancies available for graduate nurses, but when looking into the details of these ads most of them stated at least 2 or 3 years post graduate experience were required. This is ridiculous and disappointing! Adding to the disappointment, I have done 3 applications for postgrad programs and were all unsuccessful!

  70. Hi, I am currently an EN working in a hospital in Perth WA as an AIN for the last 4 years (2 years as an unemployed graduate with no grad program to prove I have experience working within a health system). I finished my EN studies end of 2014 and since then only successfully got through to the interview stage 3 times out 7 with no feedback to tell me what I have done wrong…

    I have been looking for work as a graduate EN and have been utterly unsuccessful for the last two years, I believe I am falling deeper into my depression and feel I should give up and look for a different type of career.

    I love my current job as an AIN, but the reason I did EN in the first place was to help people and make a difference… this disappointing fact is that I am currently not making any headway in progressing further in my EN and am desperate to know if I can multi-apply for graduate EN programs throughout Australia?

    I have an interest in becoming a great all-rounder nurse, cardiology and ED specialised, if I end up getting that far… I also would like to try working in the country and learning lots from there, but it appears luck isn’t on my side this year again…

    All the places I have applied (even my workplace as a casual EN) are telling me I need 1-2 years experience – “they won’t hire graduates be they RNs or ENs”… this doesn’t help someone who is stuck in their job with no way to progress further.

  71. Is there a new update to this story? It’s been years. I’m still wondering what the big picture is like with the new grad situation. I too didn’t get a new grad (I finished my BSN with an Australian uni; oh how I wish every graduate would have an opportunity for new grad; one year of acute experience is all we need after all, they don’t even have to employ us after one year of new grad … just need that ONE YEAR).
    I was officially an RN December 2012. After three years of trying to apply in hospitals and after countless rejections (they want someone with experience) I am ready to give up. Career change soon, I just need to finish a VET course and hopefully it will lead to fulltime employment. Chasing nursing dreams – given it three years … at least I tried. It’s time to give up on it.

  72. Hello and thank you to Peter who started this thread and all those who have posted their replies. Your insights, experiences and tips have been beneficial to me.

    I finished my nursing studies in NSW this past year and I was able use my RN qualifications to obtain permanent residency status here in Australia this year. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a new grad position with NSW Health because of my international student status during my studies. I also applied to private hospitals, but was not even invited for interviews supposedly because of my lack of AIN experience at the specific hospitals (I found out much later through my colleagues).

    After all the hard work and sacrifice I made to study abroad, imagine my utter disappointment when I found out five months before graduation that NSW Health was prioritising (ie. only accepting) local nursing students for their new grad programs. I was a part-time student and when I started my studies, NSW Health did not have such clause in effect.

    Looking back, it was heart-wrenching to watch a majority of my classmates being on top of the world for securing new grad positions with NSW Health. On top of that, many of them were accepted to their first-choice hospitals. I was just as qualified as they were, but because I was “international” I was denied an opportunity that I felt I fully deserved. Then again, what right did I have as an “international” to take away Aussies’ jobs?

    I was clearly too naive to think that I could secure a nursing job in Australia just because there was a “nursing shortage” here. Little did I know back then that nursing schools here accept WAY more students than there are jobs reasonably available in the real world. Like some have commented here, schools have really taken advantage of us international students because they know they could make so much money off us.

    I’ve also learned recently that the local new-RNs don’t necessarily have it easier. For example, I resent the private hospital system where they would rather hire experienced overseas nurses than train qualified local RNs. There is a fancy-shmancy private hospital in my area that doesn’t even have nurse educators in their wards and hire mostly foreign nurses who may or may not speak English fluently. How sad.

    Currently, I am working casually for an agency but searching for a permanent full-time job. Unfortunately, with my lack of experience I do not receive enough shifts to earn a living. Because I haven’t completed a new grad program, I am not even paid as a 1st-year RN. And yes, like many have said here, most job postings require 1-2 years of RN experience.

    Had I known what I know now when I was first considering studying nursing in Australia, I would have thrown the idea out the window without a doubt. Had I known back then that my former trade has been on the Migration Skilled Occupation List for years, I would have immigrated to Australia using my former trade AS A PERMANENT RESIDENT. Then, I would have enrolled in nursing school as a permanent resident and had equal opportunities regarding post-registration employment. AND PAID MUCH LESS TUITION!

    If I don’t secure a nursing job in the near future, I may consider having my overseas qualifications assessed and looking for work in my former trade. I will most likely continue to work with my current agency casually, because I really DO enjoy the shifts they send me on. Thankfully, I haven’t had any of the experiences Florence Nightingale and others talked about. I’ve been fortunate to work with people who are pleasant and helpful.

    Thank you for reading.

    • I’ll be studying Nursing in Australia starting from next year and it worries me so much after I read through various threads and comments here. I see many people saying not to study nursing in Australia and honestly it’s a bit discouraging. After all, being a nurse is my dream and I’m planning to migrate to Australia, not just treating my uni life there as a stepping stone. I definitely do not regret my decision to study nursing and start my career as a nurse in Australia but it’d be really helpful to hear some advice from a fellow international student 🙂 Until now I’ve been living in Singapore (but I’m not a Singaporean) and there are of course many times when foreigners are entitled to much fewer choices so I’m mentally prepared for that in Australia too, locals would be prioritised. Well, I mean they have it tough too. Nonetheless, I’d really appreciate it if I can get some tips from anyone really on how to stand out and eventually be employed. Thank you for reading. I really wish the best for all the nurses! It pains me to know so many graduates are struggling 🙁

    • M8 realistically the majority of domestic graduates aren’t receiving offers in the first round either.

      So the otherwise poetic notion of the oppressed international student surrounded by their domestic peers, fresh job contracts in one hand and Australian birth certificate in the other is a tad misguided.

      Some districts took ~50 new grads in the first round, that’s out of the how many hundred NSW-based applicants all applying to the same institutions/hospitals … and then add in the interstate applicants from QLD/TAS/WA who are also vying for the same NSW-based positions.

      I know several domestic applicants who were wait-listed or even knocked out despite D/HD average, great clinical references, solid referees, AIN/relevant work xp, volunteer work and just being given the feedback “all comments are positive, just no positions available sorry”.

      Likewise, I know numerous who got offers who have failed units, have no relevant xp and will likely will not pass their English literacy test to get registered.

  73. As a student EEN about to graduate in two weeks, I wish I’d looked into employment options prior to enrolling. According to our teachers there are plenty of jobs. I would say that jobs are scarce even with experience!
    I have been trying for months to get a position in aged care – I have applied for positions vacant online, I have cold canvassed and emailed facilities and I never hear back.
    I have started to apply for EEN positions to be told I will need to apply for EEN new grad jobs- I believe I have seen one public position in HNEH in the last 6 months and a handful in private facilities. My TAFE alone are turning out 90-120 EENs annually. I can guarantee most wards are short on shifts but they just don’t have the nursing hours available to employ new staff- this infuriates me no end.

  74. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this
    blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


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