‘I am a nurse who is not a nurse’


Gloria was an unemployed new grad in 2012. This is her story from early 2013 where she said that finding employment is the biggest hurdle for nursing’s new graduates.

Like many young people coming to the end of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, or rather, I had too many ideas and aspirations and couldn’t settle on just one. I always had a very keen interest in health and medicine, but knew I wouldn’t have the grades to pursue a career as a doctor. I ended up putting my degree preferences in for nursing – I thought it would be a good choice for me and if I didn’t like it, I could always change. Well, once I started my nursing course I loved it and there would be no chance of seeing myself doing anything else now.

            Gloria at work – not as a nurse.

I graduated earlier this year from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Nursing. The degrees took me five years to complete. For someone with near to no financial support, getting through five years of a full study load and clinical placements was very tough going – but I certainly grew as a person, gained an immense amount of knowledge and had some life-changing experiences. Unfortunately, eight months after starting the job-hunt for my first nursing position, I am still serving my time in the retail job that put me through uni in the first place.

Like most nursing students in their final year, I applied for the new graduate nurse program provided by the state’s public health service. I arrived well prepared for the interview, had my paperwork organised and ready to go and answered every question confidently, clearly and concisely. I passed the interview, but weeks later was told they didn’t have a place for me and I was put on a waiting list for a position.

During all my clinical placements while at university, I received great feedback on my abilities, from nurses, patients and doctors. For five whole years I was constantly told what a great nurse I was going to be. At no time during my studies did a teacher ever pull me aside and say ‘I’m worried about you, your practice isn’t good and you might not make it’. I passed every one of my CPAs (Clinical Practice Assessments) with a 100 percent score.

One of the best experiences during my studies was a placement in the operating theatres at one of Sydney’s major hospitals, where the staff members were astounded to find out I was a student (it’s hard to tell who’s who when everyone wears scrubs). They’d exclaim ‘You are not like other students.’ One nurse told me I was capable of doing the work that a new graduate nurse wouldn’t do in their third month. Sure, I am a bit smug about this, can you blame me? I fitted right into the workplace. I know that I am very adaptable; I have a great track record of learning fast and fitting in in every job I’ve ever started.

In my last year of uni, I was constantly being told that I would have no problem finding a job, that I should aim high, that there’d be no chance of me not getting any job I wanted. Yet here I am, jobless, understandably bitter and completely desperate.

Most people who hear stories like mine are completely shocked. ‘But we have a nursing shortage, we need to hire more of them!’ Well, they are right – we are facing a nursing shortage. But just like me and all the other nursing graduates without a job, they have been completely misled about our job prospects. The government gives many of us Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP) at universities because they want to attract more nurses into the workforce. In my case, having a CSP cut the cost of my degrees by about 78 percent. Thank you Australian taxpayer, you paid for me to become a nurse. Unfortunately, you won’t see a return on your investment, because what the Government seems to have forgotten is to give us jobs.

Some of my fellow students, who are fortunate enough not to be in my situation, have started giving me all sorts of advice. Trying agencies is a popular one, but agencies only hire nurses with 12 months experience. Try applying interstate? But the story is the same in all other states – they also have more new graduate nurses than there are positions. Try applying for Registered Nurse positions? Well, I’ve applied for dozens. I have only ever had a reply from two employers, one of whom told me that I should be applying for a new graduate program and that I would be really late in doing this. I couldn’t help setting him straight. Don’t the employers know that there are hundreds of people like me out there? Do people who receive my applications simply throw them away, thinking that this girl must realise it’s a new graduate program that she needs?

My name will disappear off the waiting list at the end of the month, as a new one will be created for next year’s unsuccessful applicants (though we shouldn’t call them unsuccessful, they did pass the interview, after all). And if you end up on this list, don’t hold your breath, you may never be contacted, because the hospitals are full up. Time is running out for me – if I cannot find employment as a nurse, I will not be eligible to re-register. But one thing is sure for my future: I am never going to consider getting an education to qualify for a job ever again, because what a colossal waste of time it has been.

I am very glad I was asked to write about my experience, because the Australian public needs to realise how very poorly nurses, the country’s most trusted professionals, are treated when they simply try to start out.

Nursing, who’d have thought it’s such a cut-throat business?

As a new grad, did you have a similar story to this? If you have an experience you’d like to share, please get in touch here: nurseuncut@nswnma.asn.au. Whether it was something that occurred in a single shift or about you’re entire career so far, we want to know.

Previously on Nurse Uncut: Experience – I’m an unemployed new grad


  1. This is nothing new, this has been the case for years! I was in the same boat and when I applied for a New Graduate job and got rejected, it was the single most devastating thing that had happened to me. I think I cried for a week, because I knew I would never get a job as a nurse! I had small children and struggled to put myself through uni, full-time over 3 years, to pursue a career in nursing. So the year following my graduation, I applied to do a post-graduate in midwifery. This was the single best thing I have done so far, except giving birth to my own children. I love being a midwife! So my advice is this: There are so many fields of nursing and midwifery that are desperate for staff eg: mental health, aged care, midwifery, to name a few, so think about doing a post grad course in these fields. It keeps you in the industry, you can re-register and you may just find the job you love. All is not lost, even if you feel like it is! There is more to nursing than ‘general nursing’.

  2. This story really scares me and I feel so disgusted that you have completed 5 years of tertiary study, obtained a Masters and yet you are working in retail! I am currently a second year nursing student and have had my doubts about a career in nursing due to this very reason. It is hard to believe we are being accepted into uni in bucket loads, yet only a handful walk away with a job. Last year Uni SA took on 800 nursing students – many of them externals from Vic and NSW – this year that number rose to over 900. The university struggled to find 3rd year nursing students acute care placements this year so as many as 60 percent of those students were forced to complete 8 weeks of acute care placement in a nursing home – I would hate to think what will happen to this year’s students. How on earth are we supposed to fulfill the requirements of the national competency standards if we can’t even get the necessary experience to do so? If they can’t get 800 students acute care placements, how do they think 3000 graduate nurses are going to get jobs? Surely alarm bells are ringing but they are just not being addressed as the universities’ greed for funding has priority over student outcomes! I would be more willing to pay $30,000 for my degree if it meant I was guaranteed a job at the end of it. I am a single mum with two kids, I work part time and study fulltime – to think that by the end of my degree all I will have is a $16,000 Hecs debt is very disheartening and makes me regret ever starting this degree.

    • Dear Taryn,

      it is very disheartening for me to find out that my story is scaring current nursing students, but my aim of raising awareness about this issue is partly to let current students know the truth. There are so many factors which make a current student think that it is easy getting a job after uni and I would rather have found out the truth before applying for my new grad placement. The truth is, it is just as competitive out there as it would be for any profession, nurses do not have it any easier. My advice to all current students is this: Get an assistant in nursing/ undergraduate nursing position, even if you only do a few shifts, it will give you much better chances of securing a new graduate position; Apply for both the public and the private sector; Make contact with NUMs and educators on wards where you enjoyed your placements, maybe they will be happy to be your reference for your new graduate applications; And if you are placed on the eligibility list after your interview, don’t wait around for job offers, start emailing hospitals as soon as possible, because those hospitals have so many people on the waiting list to choose from, you might as well make it easy for them and show them you’re keen. Good luck!

      • Dear Gloria,

        Obtaining employment as a undergraduate AIN does not necessarily help you get employment as a RN. It certainly did not help me, as I had to move interstate and specialise in mental health to get my first role as a RN. The rest of your advice is very valuable to anyone wanting to work in nursing.

        Best of luck to anyone finishing uni this year.

  3. Dear Gloria, Reading your story touched me so deeply. You have done five years of nursing study and at the end, are forced to go back to a retail job. Our NSW government and its state health minister should hang their heads in shame.
    You’re right, it feels as if it was a waste of your time and waste of taxpayers’ money. They deserve you being a nurse serving the community and giving back. But you have been prevented from giving back your service due to the fact the system is not working. We New Graduates who have been left behind and could not get into this new grad program know how you feel, we share your frustration, disappointment and your anger.
    Saddest part is that no one seems to care and no one seems to want to take responsibility to fix this ongoing problem, now growing more each year. What is going on with nursing studies in all Australian universities? It is the fact that they are taking in more students each year from local and abroad which adds to the problem which already exists in our outdated system.
    Each year there are growing numbers of New Graduate nurses joining the waiting list, just to be forgotten. Many nurses are already leaving the profession because they are fed up with the non-caring and non-supporting approach of the system.
    Gloria I would like to invite you, please join us for further discussion and Like the New Graduate Nurses say ‘Give us jobs’ page on Facebook. Your voice counts and it is very important that we join together to be counted.
    Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Graduate-Nurses-say-Give-us-jobs/557231054310095
    Our community page for petition: http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/nsw-graduate-nurses-say-give-us-jobs

  4. Gloria, how frustrating for you and sad for the patients who won’t receive your care. I really hope you find new grad employment soon.

  5. The low rate of graduate employment is endemic across Australia at the moment. There is a genuine nursing shortage, but it’s the same story as the doctor shortage: the areas desparate to recruit are the areas that no one really, in their right minds, would want to work, for very good reasons (no offence to any of these destinations, but places like small, one and two ward nursing hospitals, remote aboriginal communities, bleak industrial towns and other such out of the way or really dismal places). No matter how much anyone talks them up and markets them, these places often offer limited experience, parochial attitudes, very limited social interaction and no real career incentives to go there.

    And when you listen to all the rhetoric, it shows you how passive the government and nurse leaders expect new graduates to be. I wouldn’t expect any 21 year old new graduate to be tempted by a small GP hospital in a town of 15,000 that is 400k from Sydney and I wouldn’t expect a similar destination to tempt any mature age new grad away from their family in the city.

    One of the problems, perhaps the problem, is that universities churn out nursing graduates based on national need and don’t take local opportunity into account. Case in point, the University of Tasmania takes in over 1000 undergraduates a year, over 40% of which are mature age. The number of graduate positions available in Tasmania in 2012: 77. That’s somewhat disproportionate, but no-one tells the undergraduates this.

    I have a friend who runs a retail food store down here: in February last year he advertised for a cashier to work on the checkout. 400 people applied, out of which all 400 had just been awarded university degrees but were unable to get jobs. I wonder what degree that could be?

    So we end up with the standing joke that is being bandied around at the moment:

    Q. What does an engineering graduate say when you show them a stick and a cylinder?
    A: Hmm, we can feasibly construct a lever with these items that could conceivably revolutionise production.

    Q. What does an accounting graduate say when you show them a stick and a cylinder?
    A: On a cost-benefit basis, we can produce these with a marginal return of about 5.8% profit.

    Q: What does a nursing graduate say when you show them a stick and a cylinder?
    A: Do you want fries with that? Would you like to upsize?

    Joking aside, why are the universities simply not telling undergraduates the true demographics of employment after graduation? And why isn’t the government offering the same incentives to nurses that it offers graduate doctors to work in high need, low staffing areas?

    What a serious, tragic waste of talent this whole situation is.

    • I have forced my teachers, NUMs and Nurse Educators to confess to this debacle but they won’t. You told it exactly how it is, perfectly.

  6. Hi Gloria,
    Your story is disheartening. I am currently studying nursing and am so stressed out about not getting a grad program. I went into it for the same reasons and am now loving it, I am so angry about the fact that they told us there was a job shortage but yet so many of us can’t get jobs.
    I currently have a partnership at a hospital but am worried not even that is enough!
    Did you have good grades? Or can you give out any advice?
    Good luck!

  7. Whatever happened to taking responsibility for our own learning? Why do we require universities to restrict the number of students undertaking a particular course and potentially deny amazing people the dream of studying that subject and potentially having a career in that field just because it is harder for us to find work?
    I am constantly shocked that people don’t have the foresight to approach work places before studying an entire one or two degrees to ask simple questions “How many people apply for jobs here each year ie grad positions?”, “what do I do if I do not secure a grad position?”, “what other job opportunities in other fields are open to me once I have completed this degree?” Stop believing we are all entitled to jobs once we have completed a degree. This is the real world and far from what happens. If you’re old enough to decide on a career and mode of action, then you are old enough to research it thoroughly before undertaking that field of study. It is common knowledge that universities are pumping out more than is required by demand, especially in the nursing field, and this just makes getting a position all the more competitive. Be proactive, ask around, call up people, past grads, nursing staff at your Uni and staff at placements and know exactly what you will be facing once you’re finished the gruelling degree. It only makes sense to do that.

    • Oh Anna, nurses are born to be nurses…university and college qualifications are not enough. I ought to know as I was one for 33 years. I couldn’t have done otherwise…it is a calling, no doubt!
      Gloria, I sincerely wish you all the best in your search for a nursing job. I know it isn’t easy but please don’t give up. Heidi’s advice seems to me to be the most sensible.

    • Gloria – sounds like throwing good money after bad to do your Master’s before having ever worked as an RN! I can’t understand why you would do that. Anyway, nursing is not the only industry where there is an oversupply of graduates and high competition for existing vacancies. In fact it’s kind of odd that people who have studied nursing expect a new grad position. It’s a hangover from the long extinct hospital system. I went through in the first year of Uni nursing and that’s nearly 30 years ago. I had to move to a different city to get a post grad position.

      • A Masters is fast becoming the norm in many professions Amanda. Many universities offer undergraduate degrees in the broad subjects, like Arts and Science, and then expect those who are wanting to do the specific professions to complete a Masters. The Bachelor of Nursing will phase out eventually and the Masters will be the only option to become a nurse. It’s already happening!

      • Agree with Kellie, we are fast adopting the American model where professional degrees (nursing, physio, medicine etc) can only be completed post-grad. The University of Melbourne only offers nursing as a post-grad – I’m sure the other universities will soon follow. I am a Master of Nursing student myself, my Bachelors degree was in Business, I wanted a career change and really didn’t see the point of doing another Bachelors!

  8. Hi Gloria

    I too am an unemployed new grad, if you saw my comment on the other blog post. Posting to give you support to hang in there.

    Even for doing a postgraduate course, you need one year of experience in that specific field.

  9. It certainly isn’t new. The same happened to my daughter 20 years ago, despite working in a Nursing Home and Private Clinic while going through Cumberland (now Sydney Uni). It seemed to relate to the demoghaphics of where you lived for a while.
    Despite wanting to do Childen’s Hospital Nursing, took a position in a childcare facility. Being the RN in charge of the under-2s. From that position has not looked back, but taken every opportunity to study and do extracurricula courses. Now has a Part time position in Perinatal, Maternal and Infant Pschiatric Nursing.
    As one from the old school I’d encourage you to look outside the square. From what I have heard from many younger nurses, your degree is the opener for many varied work positions.
    If you still want hospital work, it will come.

  10. I wonder is it the same in country areas as well, outside Newcastle Sydney and Wollongong. I hear all the time of the shortages of nurses and doctors in country areas, but is it true?

  11. Have you written to Julia Gillard who advocates Australians for Aussie jobs and queries why her govt is letting in overseas nurses! I am a NZ nurse working in Sydney (my husband got seconded here) and am nearing the end of my working life. I recall in NZ in the ’90s the same situation existed with new grads. Many went to the US and Canada. Last year in NZ the same situation is happening with nursing graduates finding it hard to get jobs.
    I believe your situation is not unique to nurse graduates but to a lot of other uni graduates as well. Having a point of difference to others in the same predicament would help. Have you thought of going overseas for your initial experience, doing some volunteer work or doing some unpaid nursing placements in areas where there is a shortage, which I imagine would be in remote areas. I do not agree you should work in an unpaid role but it might help and would not be forever. Or work as a nursing assistant, a foot in the door so to speak and get known. Also doing short courses online in the area that you would eventually like to work in will help you along the way. These challenges either cement a stronger desire to achieve our goal in life or steer us in a different direction.
    Your high grades and level of confidence may not actually be assisting you as an overconfident person in nursing is not perceived as desirable as much as a practical one.
    I wish you luck with all your future endeavours as I believe our path in life is sometimes due to a bit of luck and why not indeed.

  12. I have been following Nurse Uncut, on FB and other nursing news through the Internet and newspapers. My son is aiming to take a nursing course next year but after hearing so much negative news re nursing unemployment and workplace bullying, I don’t think this is the right path for him to take. I hope I can convince him to change his mind now RATHER than see him break down after a Bachelors degree/Masters, unemployed and with a huge uni debt!

  13. worried_MUM_of Year11 student , I can only say that male students might have an extra edge at times and bullying is generally for the females. I have to say that I see less bullying with male nurses around. Sad isn’t it?

    Gloria, having been a graduate of your degree, I felt the need to comment. I wish you the very best success in scoring a position soon. I have a friend who personally went through the same and contacted NUMs on previous wards and asked to be shortlisted. I know a few NUMs are quite happy to offer positions to ex-students after working in some hospitals. Another colleague went to a nursing home and after a few months experience jumped to the hospital. There are a few side paths you may need to take, but I hope that soon you can do what you love most. Nursing.

    Best of luck. It is sad that they churn out so many nurses, and we need many nurses, yet they don’t get positions. I hope the gov fixes this problem soon.

  14. Gloria, I am sure if you present yourself on the doorstep of any Residential Aged Care facility/organisation they will welcome you with open arms.
    Aged Care organisations now offer new grad programs and a very good career path. Aged Care is very advanced on the e-health pathway too, using the emerging technologies to enhance the outcomes for residents. Aged Care needs RNs – don’t discount it!

  15. As a nurse I found the same thing here in the US, just out of school and you get weird looks like you had a second head or something. I would agree that you need to get more special training to make yourself more valuable. ER, ICU, Advanced nursing, wound care, dialysis and even QA or work towards management. Nursing can be a lot of work and a lot of fun and it is getting more challenging every year. I do Home Health and specialize in wounds. But getting into home health was hard, but it was worth the effort. Keep at it and the wall will crack. And remember to specialize, it does give you an edge. Also apply everywhere they need a nurse. Keep at it.

  16. I hear you. You are at the start of your life as a nurse. I may have been a CNC who would have been there to help. However, at a moment of my nursing life I developed depression and left the public hospital I worked at. When I tried to re apply for my registration I put that down as the reason I had not completed the education part of rego. My mother died, I was bullied out of my job, so last year was hard. I was basically asked if I wanted to give up my registration. I am amazed at how nursing has changed – no nurture, just too busy to care.

    I cared, loved the new grads with their enthusiatic times. I hated how they got beaten down. When I trained, okay, the cleaning of bedpans was irritating, but I was taught well.

    I hope you can find a place and I hope I dont get chucked on the junk heap just because my mother died and I got depressed for a while.

    Good luck, and remember most older nurses are not going to eat our young, lol.

  17. Gloria,
    Your current situation seems to be part of the changing face of our healthcare system, whereby numerous roles (including those in medicine) are experiencing increasing competition for the available jobs (especially those in metropolitan areas).

    Your predicament is not only limited to New Grad nurses gaining their first positions, but also experienced RNs who wish to change specialty fields and move laterally through the profession.

    In my experience as an RN/RM working all around Australia, a nurse has to now employ quite savvy tactics in order to get where they want to go in this profession. By ‘savvy’ I mean utilising non-standard methods to gain employment.

    One of my biggest hangups is the very real ‘blocking’ that hospital HR departments employ, by eliminating direct communication between NUMs and potential employees. I highly recommend contacting NUMs directly via telephone, post or email (or all three) to seek out work possibilities. They know what jobs are available and may offer you some valuable suggestions, especially if you have previously worked in their department as a promising student nurse. I found personally delivering CVs particularly effective.

    Don’t despair at not gaining one of the coveted ‘New Grad Positions’, not everyone gets one of these, just look at the limited number of places offered. These hold little bearing for the rest of your career.

    Utilise all of your nursing contacts and have them mention your situation to their NUMs. You’d be surprised how many nursing jobs are still filled by in-house recommendations. I see this happen all the time.

    Good luck and stay positive. You are just at the bottleneck, once you are inside the bottle you’ll be fine.

  18. Ever since Nurse Uncut commenced, I’ve been talking about this issue. But I often encountered this naive attitude from those nurses who have enjoyed stable employment in the same hospital/ward for years and years.


    I am sick and tired of explaining to people that Australia does not need any nurses from overseas. But no, our universities will continue to produce thousands of new grad RNs every year.

    Jobs for new grads?

  19. I work in a major tertiary referral hospital in NSW. Recently our area health employed several RNs from India on 457 visas. The excuse was there were not enough RNs in Australia to fill vacancies, but this article proves otherwise. Every nurse in Australia should be taking this up th their local member of parliament! and their local area health service!

  20. Although its very frustrating…it’s also about skill mix when recruiting nurses…so many of the overseas nurses are coming here with “experience” – and yes I know the argument that how can you get experience without a job in the first place.

    Recently I saw a private district nurse company that is offering new grad positions – that could be a good option, then join a hospital casual pool to keep up hospital experience.

    On the floor there may be a shortage but it’s all to do with how much money the LDH has to spend! Like one major Sydney LDH last September being so much in the red 3 months into the financial year that they were forced to put in place a recruitment freeze.

    Keep up your 20 CPD points for the year and you should be able to re-register … recency of practice is over 5 years.

    Good luck and I hope something comes up soon.

  21. It’s criminal that new grads cannot get a job. There are far too many in admin-type and “made up title” jobs in our profession. It’s time that many of these were gone and room made for those that are hands-on workers.

  22. Wow! What a story.
    Gloria (and all the others in your boat), I feel absolutely terrible about your situation.
    I’ve been an RN for 15 years and have never been overly aware of this problem. I guess I have always felt secure in my job and can’t believe that young nurses are not getting the chance to begin a career in the noblest of professions.

    I, too, always knew I wanted to be a nurse and was lucky to get a new grad position in a big teaching hospital. I now work in paediatrics and so our staffing is fairly good. But I hear many stories about my adult colleagues who are struggling to cover shifts. It seems ludicrous that enthusiastic, well educated nurses cannot find new grad places. What a loss to fellow nurses and our patients.

    There is nothing more rewarding than helping a new grad through those first difficult weeks and watching them gain confidence and become compentant and caring clinicians. Gloria, you sound like someone I would like to work with.

    I wish you all the best. Don’t give up! Perhaps aged care will be a stepping stone into acute care nursing later on. Keep fighting because there are hundreds of patients out there who would be lucky to have you caring for them. Think of them and keep fighting.

    This madness has to stop!

    Good luck,

    Angela (CNS, paediatric oncology)

  23. Unemployed new grad here.

    I can’t even join the casual pool, I keep getting ‘unsuccessful’ letters. I have already done my 20 cpd points this year but I really can’t see any future. I’ve been applying to every single listing of RN jobs in NSW.

  24. My son was wanting to do nursing but changed his preferences and elected to do Primary Teaching instead solely because he can see there are so few new grads getting positions.

    He is now in his first year and personally I am glad because I am so angry our new grads are not getting help. My work is flooded with international nurses and yes they are lovely but our new grads should be given first priority.

    • I’m an unemployed primary school teacher – same problem of universities taking heaps of students on with no guarantee of work at the end of their study program.

  25. Erick, you will need to look to private employers, not NSW Health.

    My advice (formed with over 20 years of being ‘used and abused’ in nursing) is that you should look toward contacting any number of private Residential Aged Care providers. Whilst Nursing Home work may not be what you want to do, it can be the doorway to getting that magic 12 months experience that NSW Health always seem to quote.

  26. I am currently a 4 year experienced RN in Sydney.
    I won’t ever forget my experience at RPA when I applied for a new grad position.
    I didn’t even put my first preference for RPA but was called for an interview. They told me that they selected me because of my academic and clinical achievement, like I would be a good material for the hospital.
    So I went for interview there and missed my first preference elsewhere.
    Anyway, I passed the interview and was told my application was successful. But a couple of weeks later, they told me “hang on”. Even though I was selected, I was placed on a waiting list as there were not enough positions for new grads at RPA.
    I thought no one would give up an offer from RPA once given so I wouldn’t be offered a place there. But I’d already missed all chances to work in other NSW hospitals as they’d already interviewed.
    I had to look at other states and a few hospitals were highly interested in my cv. They all offered me new grad positions.
    I worked interstate for a couple of years and then moved back to Sydney. Now, I am working at RNS.
    It was a bloody stupid situation. I seriously wasted my time and money.

    • These sorts of situations are not unusual. A large private hospital in Hobart did something similar 3 years ago, offering 20 grads jobs for only 6 positions. They all started, but after the orientation were told that 14 of them had to go to other hospitals owned by the company in Queensland, something none of them were told at interview. Half of these graduates were mature age and had families in Hobart, so there was quite an uproar. The person responsible was removed from their position (a senior nurse), but those grads that wanted to be employed had to go or lose their jobs at the end of the 12 week probationary period.

      The harsh reality is that most of these situations are avoidable, including the difficulty of finding employment on graduation, simply by nurse managers and educators being open and transparent about job opportunities.

      However, as I experienced, and the Francis Report in the UK confirmed, mid level and senior managers and educators in nursing are not easily identified as being ‘talented and insightful’.

      I recall from my Uni lecturing days when I brought this issue up at the faculty meeting, that ‘it’s not our problem once their bums are out the door’.

    • Hi Gian. I was wondering if you could give me some advice/sample questions that RPA hospital asked you when you are interviewed as I am also invited for an interview at RPA…
      Thanks in advance

  27. To all of the people saying ‘don’t recruit overseas nurses’, I can assure you, the only overseas nurses Australia has been hiring this year (2013) have been highly experienced nurses which I’m afraid new grads can’t fill. As a UK nurse with 2 years experience I made the mistake of jacking in my job in the UK (funnily enough because we too are having enormous funding cutbacks and I felt our ward was now so poorly staffed that it was putting my patients’ lives at risk) and moved here under the impression that I’d find a job easily.
    I was rejected by every hospital here in Brisbane, despite glowing references and a first at degree level, however I did manage to get a job in the community. I have been agency nursing alongside this work and only now have been offered a job due to getting my face well known in one particular hospital and asking every nurse manager I met!
    I tried finding work in rural workplaces and have been informed that these are now much harder to come by because they are giving them to new-grads – so I can assure you international nurses are not getting preferential treatment.
    Back in the UK, I was asked to give a lecture to some of the students who were just due to graduate on ‘the transition from student to practising nurse’ and all I got from these students was “well that’s all well and good but there are no jobs! How can you tell us this when there are no jobs!” etc.
    Well the situation was exactly the same when I graduated and at the time I was one of a lucky three out of 120 students to obtain a job. I explained this was just due to trying and trying and applying for every job no matter where, no matter what type – one girl worked for the phlebotomy service, so that she was getting her face known in the hospital and building her skills until a job came along. Many worked in Nursing Homes, oh that unglamorous of professions that most new-grads forget exist. Fantastic experience and looks much better on a CV than working in a shop. Sorry, I’m ranting now.
    The point is, this happens almost every year and yes, this year for Australians seems to be harsher than most as you are only just feeling the full brunt of the economic crisis (count yourselves lucky!), but with due tenacity you will find work. And please, don’t blame nurses from overseas for the job shortage, because that’s simply not the case.

    • The problem is not individuals like yourself, but a policy that allows too many foreign workers to take jobs which could be retained by new graduates. The argument that with tenacity you will get there just doesn’t add up. Okay some might but there is a vast shortage of jobs, nursing home, hospital and otherwise. If through tenacity I get a job that simply means that someone else will miss out UK or Australian. Nothing thus far mentioned suggests that it is not difficult for nurses from the UK to get jobs in Australia, the argument is that less working visas for foreign nurses should be accepted to allow the surplus of Australian fresh graduates to get a job. Again the problem I would argue is no one’s fault but policy makers and politician. If people from UK and elsewhere are being preferred this is only because experience is going to be more attractive to businesses and hospitals, naturally. This hardly seems to be the point though. It is that Australia and its taxpayers are spending, not to mention young nursing hopefuls, are spending huge amounts of money both to put many nurses through university every year that are not and some of which will never gain employment. To add to this taxpayers are also subsiding large amounts of foreign workers to gain nursing employment, which both undercuts the new Grads education they have just paid for and fosters long term nursing shortages in the country.

      • It isn’t easy for UK-trained nurses to acquire Australian nursing registration. I am an Australian citizen who did their initial nurse training in the UK in a hospital-based environment over 20 years ago. I would like to move home however I cannot even get anyone from the Australian Nursing Board to talk to me. All they want is money to reject you, but with no advice as to what to do next. It is a deplorable state of affairs.
        When I first qualified there was a shortage of jobs and I had to take an initial job in an area I didn’t want to work in but I did so to get known. Nothing ever changes in nursing, however just because you are a new graduate does not mean you are guaranteed a job. Like everyone before you, you have to get out there and show your determination and work anywhere initially. I am going to have to find $22000 to do a year’s course at home and if that is what I have to do then I will do it. Such is life. It is no different in other professions.
        And before anyone cries me down, I have a degree in Midwifery and the 1st year of a Masters completed but I can’t work as a midwife due to a previous work injury. I am in my 50s and I realise there is no point in expecting anyone to do anything for me, I have to find the way myself.

  28. I was in the same position when I graduated which was also coupled with lengthy delays in my registration by AHPRA. I spent 10 months working in retail and getting knocked back by hospitals, aged care facilities and nursing agencies because I didn’t have at least 12 months experience. When I asked the question “How to I get 12 months experience when no one will employ me?” there seemed to be no answer. It was a catch 22 situation. I finally came across a casual pool recruitment in a rural area two hours away from home and applied. I was accepted and then had the fortune to be offered a four month graduate contract that someone else had dropped out of. It was finally the foot in the door that I was after.
    Now eight months of working in a rural hospital and travelling back and forwards, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel and am looking for work closer to home. I think it’s disgraceful that new graduates are unable to find jobs and are put in the uncomfortable position of not having the experience to apply for a non-graduate position. To Gloria, all I can say is keep persevering and take any job that is on offer, even if it’s not your dream job.

  29. It is so heartbreaking to constantly hear that more and more new grads are unable to get jobs. But tell me why overseas nurses are being employed instead of homegrown nurses?

  30. A key issue that is now affecting nursing is the role and power that HR staff have in recruitment, performance issues and/or incidents affecting patients. They have assumed significant control over matters that used to be nursing business. Perhaps it is time to ask some questions about who is actually in charge of the recruitment of nurses and decisions about practice(s).

  31. Thank you for all your comments on this article. It is important for both the public and the healthcare profession to have a discussion about new graduate nurse employment. From my experiences in trying to find a job, it has really brought home to me that finding a job in nursing is just as competitive as it is getting into any profession, as the removal of capped places at universities has just resulted in more graduates than the system can take on. I think it is most important for nursing students to realise that they will need to go the extra mile to better their chances at finding employment, that there is no guaranteed job out there for them.
    If you are currently a student nurse, do make sure you get that AIN/ undergraduate nurse job, do make sure you do some volunteering (with St. John’s Ambulance, for example), as it will look very good on your resume. Do make sure you apply for the public and the private sector, this way you can sit up to three, if not more, interviews. If you apply for NSW Health and end up on the eligibility list, you will not be able to change your preferences for areas to work in, so tick that box that you are prepared to work rurally and don’t narrow your areas of interest down too much, as you will significantly reduce your chances of being offered jobs once you are on the list. You may not be interested in working in chronic care in a remote location, but trust me when I say you will want that job when you’ve sat on the waiting list for 10 months!

    Since writing this article, I have been offered a job in Western NSW, beginning in August. Luckily, it is a location that I can get to without a car and I can afford the move, having just received my tax return. Unfortunately, not everyone has the means to move around the country for a job. It is easy for people to say that there are lots of jobs in remote areas (which there are not!) but how can you afford to get there if you are still stuck in your student job or (God forbid) on Centrelink payments? NSW Health does not offer relocation assistance…

    There are still hundreds of last year’s new graduate nurses in NSW trying to find work and to you I wish all the best of luck! Get out there and hand your CV to any Nurse Unit Manager you can find and keep trying the private hospitals and aged care facilities. Good luck!

    • Well done Gloria in getting a job. When I finished my nursing education over 30 years ago I also had to leave my home town of Sydney to find a job, also my friends and family, but haven’t looked back. The experiences I have had since then have certainly set me up for where I am working today. Enjoy working in Western NSW. Keep an open mind and you will certainly experience the art and science of nursing.

  32. Congratulations Gloria on getting a job, even if it is away from home – we’re sure you’ll do really well and hope that you’ll write another post for Nurse Uncut telling us about your adventures as an RN!

  33. It is a shame that you are unable to get a graduate position. However, I believe this problem started when nursing was transferred to University (I did hospital based training then did a Bachelor/Masters in Nursing). I am not suggesting that we go back to hospital based training. However, it is not cost effective to have all degree qualified nurses on a ward. The trend for nurses aides is continuing especially overseas and this will eventually happen here. In South Australia Enrolled Nurses are being upskilled to do tasks which were previously the RN’s role. I think nursing will come round full circle where there will be a small number of RNs on a ward who will do administrative and more complex tasks, whilst the bulk of the ADLs, dressings, drugs etc will be done by the ENs and/aides ( who before uni training were the poorly paid student nurses).

  34. I applied through Dialysis Australia Emplyment Agency and now I am working 4-5 days a week at a public hospital. I thought being an RN3 would be an issue, but in fact it wasn’t. I’m working as a general duty nurse which beats staying at home and applying for jobs with agencies that you never hear back from.

  35. Yes Dan White, that Tasmanian situation highlights the need for nurses to get out of administrative positions (before they are evicted) and work as a nurse. If there is a shortage of nurses, and I don’t believe there is such a shortage, Australian nurses should stay away from administrative positions and grab hold of all the nursing work they can.

  36. Don’t worry; it is probably a godsend because you have so much bullying and breaches of OH&S policies in the health system you would probably hate working in it.Look at other options and try something else.

  37. True Susan, so true. But it has nothing to do with university training, it’s all about the mighty dollar. They replaced most of the qualified nurses in the NHS with ENs and AINs and they are now counting the death toll. One of the NHS operators had control over 14 hospitals and the rate of preventable deaths from appalling care is over 40,000 and they are currently holding an inquest. But this is what happens when managers go rampant with cost cutting measures. Sadly, many people think RNs are useless and want to replace them; I hope they can live with the consequences.

    • Fay, there are no more ENs in the UK, they were all upskilled to RNs and replaced with auxiliary nurses or AINs. In NSW, EN numbers have remained fairly stable for decades whilst RN numbers have steadily climbed, yet there is still a perception that ENs are a threat to the RN’s role. It’s a ridiculous prospect… The WHO recommends a two tiered system of trained, licensed nurses and we are slowly losing this as EN training has moved out of the hospitals and into a ridiculously overpriced TAFE-system, it is no longer a sensible training option in my opinion. As a group, we have done nothing to protect the role of the EN and it will eventually be extinct here too, to be replaced by AINs no doubt.

  38. I am a 3rd year Bachelor of Nursing student at a regional university in NSW. We had a NSW Parliament Cabinet open public forum held here yesterday (26th Aug).

    After much hand raising at the forum and not being picked out to ask my question to the Health Minister Gillian Skinner, I approached her afterwards and asked her why have NSW Health so drastically reduced the number of new graduate positions that are going to be available in this 2013 recruitment. She blatantly said to me “thats not right, we have a lot more new graduate positions available”. She is a liar. If anyone can tell me she is being honest I will eat my hat.

  39. I’m really desperate here. I’m an unemployed new grad looking hopefully at agency work. Should I take it? I feel overwhelmed by just going to a shift – I have no idea. Anyone here have experience with agencies – will I get some support? Or better yet, what do you guys think of a new grad nurse from an agency coming to your ward?

  40. As I sit here and read your article, I am overwhelmed with emotion.
    I too am a new grad, but unlike you and many others I am an Endorsed Enrolled Nurse Graduate.
    I would have loved to say I am an RN grad, but alas it was not on the cards for me. My family of myself and two young children and my finances could only afford me the two years of fulltime study to become an Enrolled Nurse.
    It was a hard yard for myself and my children and nearly broke my spirit on many occasions. Although now, like you, I could not picture myself doing anything else.
    I write today to mention that I feel your pain and disappointment and I feel this because it is not only RNs who face this atrocity of no job prospects without experience or a graduate year.
    For an EN wanting to enter the hospital setting, just like an RN, we must jump through the hoops of limited graduate years. Unfortunately the statistics in Victoria are around 10 offers of a grad year to 1000 newly graduated enrolled nurses.
    I too was told by my educators how amazing the job opportunities would be for me and my fellow Enrolled Nursing students.
    As we know now, this is not the case. With nursing agencies requiring a minimum of 6 months experience and all advertised jobs requiring experience, I sit here and wonder where will I find this experience? Will I get a lucky break competing with so many others with a graduate year? How will I fare against another EN applying for the same position who has his/her IV medications administration. Something my institution didn’t offer. The value of which I wasn’t aware of until nearing completion of my Diploma.
    I too have taken to finding volunteering positions to assist with keeping my skills current, but I completed my studies through hardship to benefit my children and develop a career in nursing.
    This scares me daily.
    The employment opportunities without experience and the limited graduate years and transition to practice programs for both Enrolled Nurses and Registered nurses is disheartening.
    Let me just say, please don’t feel RNs are no longer required due to ENs and PCAs because all of our skills are invaluable. ENs sit alongside RNs in this journey of “I can’t get a job because I don’t have experience, because I can’t get a job”
    It’s a sad, dishonest debacle and we nurses need to stand together and shout out the rooftops if there is to be some resemblance of hope for the new graduate nurse.

    My hopes and prayers for all the other nurses who feel they are not a nurse!

  41. Just two days ago, I found out that I got my first choice of a NSW new grad position in a major Sydney hospital that I had interviewed for in late August. I was elated, to say the least, until I found out that half of my uni mates and my BFF were placed on the waiting list (in other words – they did NOT get first round offers and are still in limbo as to where they will end up!) I was shocked and stunned, as the graduating class from last year were 75% successful in gaining a NG placement! It’s impossible to celebrate when your friends are hurting! What the hell is wrong with the government? I heard there are a lot less NG openings for this year of 2014! Where will this all end?? So disheartened 🙁

  42. We were told by a NSW admin employee that there are approximately 1600 NG openings this year and 4000+ newly graduating nurses for these coveted positions! How long will this insanity continue before the NSW govt wakes up to itself? People in charge of making key decisions, it seems, have absolutely no idea what is happening out there in our hospitals! They are not seeing how overworked and overstressed our nurses are in their everyday struggle to provide better outcomes for their patients with so few resources (ie proper staffing levels) available to them. Something has to change soon! 🙁

  43. This is a problem right across the country. In WA even if a new grad gets into a grad program there is no guarantee they will get a job at the end of it; if you don’t get a place in a grad program, you have next to no chance. On the other hand (in WA anyway) the Government is bringing in large numbers of overseas nurses on 457 visas, hospitals are sponsoring them for permanent residency and they are being promoted up the career ladder quite rapidly. Why this is so is not easily understood but I’ll bet it has something to do with a financial incentive for someone.

    • To make matters worse they are increasing the scope of practice for assistants in nursing, so I guess studying nursing is a waste of time because you can do a 2 day AIN/PCA course online and be guaranteed of a job.
      Also I recently noted that nursing wages are declining, and some doctors want RNs with immunisation training to work casual and be on call for $24.90 an hour. Note you can earn $25+ an hour in sales; it’s a joke.
      I am quitting nursing because 1) I can’t get a job. 2) after 4 years of wasting my time looking I have had enough and 3) with the cost of housing becoming unaffordable I don’t have any more time to waste.

  44. In response to your post Rosemary, as NGs in the public (not private) hospitals here in NSW we are guaranteed a job at the end of our program – but in the private hospitals the contract you sign only lasts for 12 months and you may or may not secure a job after your NG is completed.

    I read somewhere that overseas nurses being brought in on 457 visas are highly skilled nurses (experienced in high dependency areas such as ICU, ED, OT) and they are NOT nurses with only 1-2 years experience. This info was published in an article about the shortage of highly trained nurses with advanced clinical skills presently available in Australia and the need to source them from other countries. According to this article there are more than enough nurses willing to work here in Oz but not enough experienced and specialised nurses in acute areas, which is where the shortage is in Australian hospitals right now.

  45. Are you sure we are guaranteed jobs in the NSW public system after the new graduate program? I don’t think we are, because the offer states it’s temporary for 12 months.

  46. This is the information I was given by someone at NSW Health who works directly with NG programs: The contract for a NG placement in a public hospital guarantees your job for a period of 12 months. The offer states it is temporary for 12 months meaning the position as NG is a 12-month temporary position. Once that 12 month NG contract is finished – there is the option for full-time employment. Most NGs do end up working at the same public hospital they complete their NG in because the hospital wants to retain these freshly trained nurses – not lose them to other hospitals. I know many NGs who are still employed many years later in the same hospitals in which they completed their NG program.

  47. Well, after reading through this thread again, I see people are starting to realise that I’ve been ranting on with the truth these past few years…

    My updated situation? Lost my private hospital job at the hands of the HR manager, who decided that my ‘quality improvement’ advice was ‘insubordinate’ and reshuffled it to ‘breach of code of conduct’, because they said I communicated a ‘distrust’ of the NUM.

    So I’m once again looking for a new job. BN + 2xMasters degrees, 20 years-plus experience… Sorry, you don’t have the right experience (is what I was told by one NUM).

    So who did they employ? New grads (15 of them to the one unit!)

    In acute mental health, you would think that 20 years experience (plus a few years in security work) would be valuable.

    Great news for those new grads, however, the employer is only interested in keeping the budget down and not providing the best care to the unit’s inpatients.

    References are a big issue.

    I’ve lost that many jobs due to not being able to get the ‘right’ type of reference (NUMs often refuse a reference to regular night shift staff – “I don’t really know you…”

    Got an interview and testing day with FACS (formerly DoCS) next week. Hopefully, out of nursing within a month or so…

    • Has anyone ever attempted the FACS (DoCS) Assessment Centre? (Not supposed to talk about it – yeah, it’s a secret…)

      Anyway, I failed it!

      Spoke to the psych who was assigned to providing feedback…

      “The testing was based upon Behavioural Assessment theory…”

      (me) “What percentage of applicants fail this testing?”

      (psych) “About 60%”

      …and of those who FACS (DoCS) do select for appointment, some 25% fail the eight-week training course anyway.

      Then, there’s the infamous dropout rate of FACS (DoCS) case workers, due to ‘stress’ etc.

      (psych) … “No, being a mental health nurse for twenty years has no bearing upon our selection procedures. We are very proud of how we conduct our professional services …”

      I think I’ll be happy with my new mental health NGO employer. They offered me the position of Team Leader/Manager for a district of Sydney the same day I was interviewed.

      Registered with four (4) Nursing Agencies – that’s ready-to-go – and not a single shift offered in the last two months. There is most certainly something wrong with nursing at this time …

  48. It’s interesting seeing how the circle turns.There was a huge shortage of nurses back in the late ’70s, then another following training going through the unis in the early ’90s. I finished my degree in ’95 but went onto Hons research. I then went over to England for a year but stayed nine. They hated Australian nurses taking their jobs. At one point there was talk of sending all the OS nurses home but that would have ground the NHS to a halt. So where have all the Brit nurses gone? To Australia.
    When I returned I was told that I was too qualified as I had studied (NP) and worked in the UK. Get this: I was told I needed to re-train. Short sighted perhaps but I think the real danger, having tutored overseas nurses at uni and having worked with UK nurses, is that just because they have the title ‘nurse’ does not make them a nurse. There are brilliant nurses in every country. There are more that aren’t and are a danger to patients. The aim for me is to be more than a word or title. There are more ways to skin a cat. There are more ways to be a nurse.
    If you can’t get the job you want, knock on doors, think and look laterally. A nurse is more than someone who works on the floor. There is a huge need for talented nurses to work to change to face of nursing and to bring it back to the shining light it once was. Compromise no longer. Seek out what rocks your boat and look at how you can make it happen, how you can make a change. Think big, take small steps. Yes it’s scary and yes there will be knockbacks but hey, nothing worth having is just handed to you.

  49. This note is for the moderator of this site: some of the posts are out of chronological order – the dates people posted them are mixed up. If you start with Bree’s post dated November 26th it seems to be in the wrong place & Gordo’s post of November 23rd should be the final post but it has been placed higher up. Just thought I’d point that out. 🙂

  50. Jessica, that’s because you can choose to reply to individual commenters on the comment thread, so your reply comes straight after theirs, rather than at the end.

  51. I was just reading an article in the Wall Street Journal from mid this year that stated that around 20% of American nurse graduates are still unemployed one year out. I also recall giving a job to a graduate from Qld around the time this article came out. Superb nurse: smart, lovely person and ultimately an excellent appointment. We were the 252nd employer she had applied to! Persistence paid off, but what really shocked me is: why didn’t anyone snap this girl up before us? She was a dream candidate.

  52. This is a worldwide problem. Hundreds in Philippines- no jobs. UK – unofficial figure is two thirds new nurses no jobs. USA (Williams 2013).
    Why? Drives down cost- overseas staff are cheaper and complain less. Result? No need to train nurses on home ground. But of course there are training and attitude differences. Hence nobody will touch the subject in UK.
    PS many from overseas have fake certificates, which some countries do deal with: http://exposingfakenursingcertificates.webs.com/

  53. Ah well, a year of being an unemployed new grad… I just feel I wasted my 3 years at uni, on top of the money spent on registration and cpd points for this year.

  54. I’m very frustrated by this situation: it’s 2014 and I’ve just closed down our graduate program (we advertise for 2 grads a year in a large urban aged care facility). We have run it for four years. We advertise statewide, online and directly to prospective graduates. Our marketing demographic was around 2000 prospective applicants. Our course was developed with assistance from the SON at a major university and was excellent: mentor supported, paid study days, promotion on completion, etc etc. But each year we received a maximum of … three applicants (discounting the 200-300 we got from overseas nurses). I’m looking at the applications for the last four years on my desk now. There are 11 of them. Six are just emails or one page letters. Three are just resumes with no accompanying information. Ten do not address the selection criteria that was a requirement of application. One applicant was complete and the candidate was interviewed and hired and is still with us.

    Given the moaning graduates do in the media about not being employed, especially in 2013, I approached the HOS at three university SON and asked why, given the likelihood half of all graduates will not get jobs in NSW, no one bothered to apply for our grad course. They were none the wiser either.

    We all guessed (without evidence) that perhaps you all think you are walk-ins at your teaching hospitals?

    I have a colleague in Tasmania who has just shut down their community nursing grad program for the same reasons: lack of applicants.

    So, speaking to the company board last week, we have opted to investigate taking on foreign-trained grads: the quality of application received over the last four years from them has been nothing short of excellent. We will be developing a grad program in collaboration with a TESOL consultant from the university and in consultation with the Immigration people.

    Perhaps some of you could explain to me why the very large percentage of you can’t be bothered correctly fulfilling the criteria of a graduate program application and why none of you seem at all interested in aged care: one of the most rewarding growth areas in healthcare today.

    I hope you all understand that it is a competitive market: there is a great shortage of experienced nurses, but no shortage whatsoever of inexperienced grads.

    If you want a job, stand out. You are going to have to raise your game whilst you study (a lot of hospital-based grad programs hire on the basis of academic record), broaden the areas you want to work in and if a job ad asks you to send a resume, cover letter and address the selection criteria, then do it. You won’t get looked at otherwise.

    Good luck to you all, but I fear a lot of you will end up working in retail.

    Oh, one other option for you. Outside of the grad program, we were approached by three new grads who had been unable to secure positions elsewhere. We took them on as carers and enrolled them in the Cert III in aged care (at our expense) and they now employed as personal care assistants in one of our facilities.

    Perhaps some of you could consider that as an interim solution.

    • Well Fran, no wonder people don’t want to work for you! You just said that three NEW GRADS approached you, yet your facility was too stingy to pay them as RNs. Why would you enrol them in Cert III to work as personal care assistants when they graduated from uni as RNs? There’s your answer – no one will want to work at your facility when you rip them off financially by not employing them as the RNs they deserve to be working as.

  55. I did not gain a new grad position out of uni, but because I had experience as an AIN my hospital took me on as a new grad, but not in a program as such. Bullying does exist in nursing, but this is like any other job or workplace. Please do not be discouraged to become a nurse due to a few negative people, it’s a rewarding career. Jobs available at most NSW hospitals now for new grads!

  56. I’ve posted this elsewhere in the discussion about agency nursing, but here’s a synopsis I think is completely relevant:

    1. The chance of an unemployed graduate nurse obtaining agency work is nil: it’s too risky (I know: I own an agency).

    2. The chance of a grad nurse obtaining a job or post on a graduate program deteriorates very rapidly over time. Once you are one year postgrad, if you are still unemployed, you will not be competitive against the next crop of bright eyed and keen new grads.

    3. If you are really motivated to be a nurse and still unable to find a position, enrol in the Cert III in aged care (you will get a lot of credits because of your nursing degree) and get a job as a care assistant in a residential facility. Care assistants are always hard to come by and you should be able over time to negotiate with the DON to slide into an entry-level nursing position once you are familiar with the place. Swallow your pride if need be: I know of a dozen new grads around Australia that have successfully used this model.

    So, I hate to say it, but those of you that are coming up to a year since you graduated and can’t get into a grad program or an entry level job: it’s very unlikely that you will be able to pursue a career in nursing.

    For those of you just graduated, it will look very, very good on your resume if you do have some sort of interim job whilst waiting for a grad placement, but on the whole, if you aren’t well motivated, you won’t get a look in.

    So: do a proper resume, set up an About.Me resume page (it’s free), do a proper cover letter and most important, flood the market with your applications and think laterally (as I suggested above with the Cert III idea).

    Every grad I know that was well motivated ended up with a job. About half got the job they wanted and about half took a job well outside their dreams, but they have a golden opportunity now to work anywhere they want once they have that year of experience up.

    Those that waited for grad schools to come to them, only sent out perhaps a half dozen applications or weren’t prepared to move or be flexible are either unemployed, working in retail (some even at Macca’s) or back at Uni doing their honours.

    Remember: there is no shortage whatsoever of graduate nurses: the nursing shortage is of experienced nurses. Full stop.

  57. I recently graduated from a Bachelor of Nursing Degree. I was really disappointed with AHPRA, they changed their policy for Registration. I came from a non-English speaking background and their policy is for us to take the IELTS or OET in order to get our registration. The worst part is that I need to get all 7-band score for subjects in IELTS. Why is it that a few years back they don’t require these things?! I am an Australian citizen, I got Certificate III and Certificate IV in Aged Care, I have been working in an Aged Care Facility for nearly 9 years and yet this is not enough to get my registration? I was offered a new grad program but I don’t have my registration. What is going to happen now? I tried twice to take the IELts but i did not get all 7 score. How disappointing it is.

    I am willing to go to rural for placement if i have to but how can I?. Is there any help that NSW can offer so i can get my registration?.. I am planning to join the association once i got my registration. At the moment my future seems uncertain.

    By the way I a a matured person in my mid 50’s, I just wanted to practice my profession and in few more years i will be retiring. At least give me a chance to enjoy being a Registered Nurse.

    I hope you can help me in this matter. Thank you for reading my letter.

    Kind regards,


    • Hi Rosanna,

      I feel your frustration. I am also in the same boat as you except I am not an Australian citizen and am an international student who also needs 7 in IELTS to get registration. It took me 5 attempts to get my desired score of 7 all bands. As horrible as it sounds this is the only form of proof AHPRA accepts to prove your English language skills. I suggest you keep trying for IELTS. You will definitely get there. Wish you all the success.


    • Hi Rosanna,
      I feel your predicament as it happened to me. But don’t despair, there is a better option. Try taking the PTE academic instead of the IELTS, as I cleared the exam in just one go. I cannot say that it is easier than IELTS but it is a lot fairer and more accurate in measuring a person’s English proficiency.

    • Dear Rosanna,
      I really understand your concern due to English language requirements for Registered Nurses. I think the English requirement is very essential for every new graduate nurse and AHPRA did the right thing. I am a 21 year old girl who came from Vietnam (non-English speaking country), I came to Australia and did my Bachelor of Nursing in Australia for only 3 years so I had to sit the English test. I have got Writing, Listening and Reading 7.0 and Speaking 7.5. I tried the English test many times and honestly my English has been improving during the time I took the tests. Keep trying and never give up.

  58. Please don’t take this as offensive Rosanna, but you have to be literate to the standard required to work in nursing. There have been several incidents here and in the UK where nurses who don’t have a good command of English have ended up in courts over mistakes they have made misreading or misinterpreting commands. You can look up a lot of these on the various states coroner’s websites.

  59. Rosanna, I am a TESOL teacher and the IELTS test is not that hard; thus if you can’t get a score of 7 then you should not be working as a nurse.

      • Liz’s Feb 16th comment above is obnoxious.

        Can Liz do skin flaps, very advanced wound care? This positive nursing is essential. If that is to be baseline, as she puts it, thousands of nurses should not be even nursing. Has she studied with McCusker Foundation for advanced dementia? I think not, as her post shows no clarity of recognition of years of good nursing practice.
        Has she attend very advanced *fungating* breast cancer patients? Three hours to complete horrid dressings every day. Skin cells being eaten away as you dress stench-ridden flesh that falls off every day. This is nursing care not TELSO, Liz.

          • It is absolutely critical that any overseas nurse working in Australia attain a IELTS score of 7 or better. Liz is right. A score of 7 is relatively undemanding and there would be significant concerns about a person’s ability to read and follow (or write) instructions and so forth. If you score below 7 on IELTS, then you are definitely not competent to read a prescription and dispense medications safely. The silly (and irrelevant to this case) arguments provided by Ken illustrate a poor understanding of the requirements of AHPRA. I have a senior management position in a major hospital and I can guarantee you I would consider that any nurse who cannot score 7 or better will not be hired, under any circumstances, no matter what their clinical ability or resume. It is the my duty (and AHPRA’s) to ensure patents receive competent care and a failed IELTS test fails to demonstrate the required competency for both registration and employment.

            So study, get better, go back and take the test again and see how you go.

  60. There are many ESL students studying nursing (BN degree) who struggle to complete their university degree due to their poor English skills – only to find out later that their English language skills are inadequate to meet AHPRA rego requirements! If the IELT’s requirement to study nursing at university was a Band 7 to begin with, this would alleviate the problem of not being able to meet AHPRA requirements once they graduated!

  61. In response to your letter Rosanna, unfortunately working for 9 years in an aged care facility does not prepare one to be competent as an RN. AHPRA has changed the English requirements for nurses from NESB due to errors being made due to lack of English comprehension. Standards of Practice are there to protect the public and to ensure that every practitioner is able to perform their duty of care safely. Failing the IELTS test a few times after finishing your degree may indicate a weakness in an area of your English comprehension. Perhaps enrolling in an English course for a few months could address this problem.

  62. We would be wise (as I think AHPRA has been) to heed the lessons learned in the UK in the mid to late 1990s, when the requirement for competency in English was significantly relaxed for registration with their national board as a nurse. There was an explosion in medication errors in particular and a fall in nursing care quality (google the Francis Report), the repercussions of which are still being felt today. It is absolutely essential any nurse attain the minimum requirements set by APRHA in regards to language to deliver safe care.

      • NU_Admin, you have selected one paper to support your argument, the problem is this document does not really look at the issue. I can assure you there are many documents out there which show that patients’ lives are being jeopardised by doctors and nurses who have inadequate language skills.

    • Briony, I could not agree more with you regarding the importance of attaining a Band 7 score in order to register as a nurse in Australia. As a manager I am sure you have seen your share of problems relating to poor English comprehension. I too have seen RNs on our wards that struggle to communicate in English with other team members. We have had some close calls where one team member is unable to communicate either verbally or written to another member of staff and fortunately it has been picked up before any problems have arisen. It can be scary out there! A IELTS score of Band 7 should be attainable for every new graduate.

      • I agree. The ability to communicate to an expected standard in writing and speaking is absolutely critical to safe and competent nursing practice. Personally, as a manager of a busy and big surgical ward, I can assure everyone when I recruit, if English is not your first language and you do not have evidence of a Band 7 score attainment, you will not be employed by my service.

        • As a first-year nursing student, I have to say that sometimes it was so discouraging for me. I did my placement on the Rehab ward of a public hospital. Every time I tried to ask my preceptors questions about the patients’ condition, they just said “Later, later, I’m quite busy now”. They always told me to take initiative in the routines, like checking vital signs and blood glucose without prompting. So, they were not there to supervise and tell me whether I’d done it right or wrong. My Nurse Educator was the person who assessed all the students. She collected feedback from my preceptors but unfortunately, also judged my demonstration based on her “hard to achieve” criteria. My preceptors must have told her about what they usually called “lack of initiative”. On the assessment day, my educator wanted me to pick a patient and hand-over his conditions to her. However, at a basic first-year level, I felt very stressed as if I was a medicine student. I just presented to her what I did know about my patients, but she was never satisfied with my efforts and kept asking me more and more anatomy and physiology questions. Her advice was that “Alright, student! You need to learn more. I also had to learn a lot” and subsequently, she gave me a “so-called” fail. She did not count the fact that she has spent 20 years in nursing and with those 20 years in the workplace, it’s plenty of time for her to digest all the knowledge slowly, not hastily. For me, a student who has just entered the nursing program for 2 years and now just a short 3-week time on placement, how can I cram everything into my brain? Because I expressed to my unit co-ordinator that the assessment was a little bit unfair, I was given a second chance to work in another ward. There, things got worse when the NUM always kept in his mind that I was so bad that I don’t even know how to shower and provide personal care for my patients and that my behaviours must have been very unacceptable in the previous ward and that’s why I have to go to his ward. Of course, he (and some of his staff) kept an eye on me, tried to challenge and find my mistakes as well as put pressure on me. I wish he knew what I’ve been suffering from in that first place.
          But I calmed myself down and am going to have a talk with my unit coordinator. If she also think that I should be stopped, that’s it. I will accept a fail to set me free.

          Despite those terrible events, it is very rewarding because two of my patients seemed to like me very much. One said “I think you are a very good nurse” and the other thinks I have a warm heart although I look very young.

          Now, I just want to have a break and spend some time deciding on my life. After all, bullying in the workplace is very common. However, I’m sure that you may find some colleages and preceptors who are very friendly, lovely and enthusiastic. For myself, I believe in Karma. All the wrong things you do will make you pay one day 🙂

          For the issue of English proficiency, I’m an overseas student whose English is not a first language. I have IELTS 6.5, but I don’t think I have much trouble with my communication. Achieving an IELTS 7.0 (with no band below 7.0) is a must, or less seriously, is necessary for your registration. However, having IELTS 7.0 does not mean that you are good at speaking and writing. Acquiring the English language requires us to have ongoing interaction in an English-speaking environment, hone our writing skills through university tasks and boost our awareness of English grammar. It is really hurtful when somebody comments that I’m not good at listening, just because I learnt standard English and now have to deal with different English accents. Some can be heard easily, but some are very difficult to understand. Furthermore, working in a clinical environment (except for emergency and other highly acute areas) requires the communication to be clear so that information can be perceived effectively. I don’t mean to judge or insult anybody, but some native speakers speak English very fast (like a rocket) and it sounds like they swallow every word they say. I suggest that standard English should be respected in the workplace, not the “natural and reflexive” one.

  63. The problem with the RCN report is what it doesn’t say. Just before I moved over there at the end of 1997, there was a weird re-grading of ENs to be included as registered nurses (cost saving at its worst). This meant that while these nurses did not have RN formal qualifications but years of experience, they became registered nurses … to fill a shortage. Later because of the recognition that nurses were working ‘out of the scope of practice’, a nationwide initiative ‘Agenda for change’ (should have been called rort) occurred under the guise of ‘we want to pay you for the work you actually do’. What they found is that nurses had adopted practices for various reasons, including directions of doctors, convenience etc that simply were outside their practice and outside nursing practice. Did nurses get what they deserved as far as pay for the work they did (ie re-grading)? No. They just got us to train as NPs so that what we were doing was now covered in our scope of practice … no increase in wage or conditions. They said, aside from the dangerous practices uncovered, they could not afford to pay nurses for what they actually did … it would have bankrupted the NHS. At the level I was working I was just a cheap doctor substitute but with higher skills (cost saving on their part, rip-off for me). Let us hope that Australia doesn’t follow suit.

  64. The reason is money.
    Ever since hospital-based trained nursing was replaced with university graduates, hospital budgets for nurses’ wages continue to blow.
    Why, for example, pay for 12 RNs per shift per ward, which equals 36 RNs in a 24 hour period in one ward (and then multiply that by the number of wards in a hospital), when they can be replaced cheaply with 2-3 RNs and a mix of 9 ENs and AINs ?

    • Although I don’t necessarily agree with the Uni/hospital based aspect of Bubbles’ post, as the business manager of a very large facility, I have to agree that what she is suggesting is accurate. For almost a decade now we have been experimenting with various ways to reduce our costs and it always comes down to the issue of whether RNs are value for money. The reality is, with RNs continually upskilling and the top end of their scope (especially with the emergence of the Nurse Practitioner position) merging with that of a GP or similar hospital-based doctor role, the lesser qualified professions are upskilling too, and as their training improves, they are taking on more of the tasks RNs these days are less than willing to embrace, such as basic patient care (you know the stuff I mean). So how I (and many other managers) see it, RNs as ‘generalists’ on a surgical or medical ward are coming very close to pricing themselves out of the market and it’s time to look at affordable solutions.

      I’m not going to mention where I work, but the longterm plan we are looking at right now is to increase our EN and AIN numbers substantially over the next 10 years and recruit fewer RNs, with the goal being to ultimately have a single RN on a ward each shift, with the rest of the staff being AINs and ENs. Of course there are barriers to achieving that, but we believe they will progressively be removed over the next decade. I foresee the RN as being the ‘go to’ person on a shift, with that RN ideally being a Nurse Practitioner, with AINs and ENs doing the bulk of the hands-on work.

      So, long term: fewer RNs, but higher qualified, and a lot more AINs and ENs, who are currently showing themselves to be really good value.

      • What you are saying is that we should upskill the AIN and EENs and get rid of the RNs, but have one nurse practitioner per ward. However, in reality the AINs will thus train to do the EN job and the EEN will train to do the RN job, though they will be working for less money as their title remains the same.
        In reality this approach will backfire for a number of reasons. First the education courses are not cheap, therefore the AINs and EENs will have to fight for better wages to pay for these courses. Secondly many people working in unskilled areas are currently earning more than RNs, thus replacing RNs with EENs and ENs with AINs just to keep the wages down will do nothing to attract people into the industry, as they could earn more money working in unskilled jobs. Thus you will end up with a situation where no one would want the job.

  65. Wow Gloria , I can’t help but feel a sense of anger reading what happened to you. I went through the same things, almost identical. I suffered major depression after the rejections and not being able to find work. I let my registration lapse due to the lack of faith in the system. Two years on and I am unemployed and looking for a new career 🙁

  66. Luke is right.

    I am a hospital trained nurse, where we trained as student nurses and were paid according to our level of training, which was just as intensive then as now.

    I equate First Year Student Nurse with today’s AIN, Second Year Student Nurse with EN and Third Year Student Nurse with being an EEN.

    As each exam and year was passed, we climbed a little further up the ladder, paving the way for students behind us and in turn those students ahead of us cleared the way for our learning, improvement and increasing our experience.
    If exams were not passed, students left or remained at their level. Along the way many students realised that they weren’t suitable for a nursing career and left.

    The wards had more student nurses than RNs. This was because of natural replacements. Those coming up from First Year onwards gradually replaced those staff ahead of them due to resignations, retirements, nursing staff becoming Charge Nurses, going into education, going into specialised areas, doing more study and going into management. Each level paid accordingly.

    The situation we now have is that hospitals are top heavy with Registered Nurses. There is no gradual wage increment. Hospitals can no longer afford to pay wages.

    Result = Employ more AINs, less ENs and even less RNs.

    It is fraudulent for universities and governments to encourage school leavers to enroll in Graduate Nurse courses knowing the chances of employment for the student as an RN is very slim.

    I fear the nursing profession is unfairly going backwards due to lack of forward thinking by the decision makers and the loser is the patient.

    • Yes and those working in sales can earn twice as much as RNs, so why become a nurse when everyone attacks you for the big wage you don’t earn. Why don’t you attack the doctors, pathologists or administrators; I guess you are just used to attacking women and trying to hold them back. I call this violence towards women.

  67. Hello Gloria,

    It is a common problem in each field that students complete their Graduation with high grades but they are not getting jobs in the right place. Thanks for sharing your valuable story among us. This life-changing experience motivates new graduates.

    Best of luck for your future.

    Looking forward to a new post regarding your further experiences in nursing.

  68. I have experience but I too am having problems getting work. I think the government is very short sighted. Many Australians are worried about their future. Also I imagine a considerable amount of money that is being earnt by the 457 visa holders will be sent overseas or spent overseas.

  69. Hi Gloria, I’m hoping by now you have a job.

    I’m 61 years old and graduated 2013. I completed 6 months of a new grad program and I’m now working as a casual RN in palliative care, which I love.

    My advice would be to walk into the hospitals where you want to work and find the Nurse Manager’s office and present yourself to them. Applying through the online system turns you into a number. People need to meet you to know what you have to offer. Also always call for feedback when you have an application rejected. That’s the way I got my job. Once the NM spoke to me she realised I was the sort of person they wanted at the hospital. Put yourself out there and good luck. You deserve a go.

    Regards, Helen

  70. Dear Gloria, I am in the same boat as you. I did complete my nursing course at the end of 2012. I was put on a waiting list though being deemed successful in interview. I did correspondence with each and every local health district of NSW stating my status, but in vain. I tried interstate as well but was not fruitful. I was hopeless and desperate to secure a position. I was not behind money or fame for being in this profession but it was my passion. But it was not understood by anybody. So for more than a year I was literally jobless. I had to depend on my wife for my expenses. I have been applying for positions in NSW health erecruitment site but every one turns me down. I have applied for more than 100 positions. Every single vacancy are looking for at least 1 year job experience. We the unemployed new grads are like left outs. It’s unimaginable how stressful it is to be unemployed after spending whole lot of time and money to be a new graduate nurse.
    I have recently got a job as a casual RN in a nursing home. My struggle is yet not over. I am not sure if it will be enough to help me with my registration renewal. I still need to struggle for a full time position. One of my complaints with NSWNMA is that they should understand the problem of the new grad nurses who are jobless and consider providing them with a membership at a subsidised rate. I asked them about any possibility but was denied.
    Hope our stories of struggle and stress will be heard one day. Together we can make a difference and I want to ask other unemployed new grads to come forward. Let them hear us.

    • I am in the same situation and very disappointed and frustrated. I too was granted my first registration in Jan 2014 and had only unsuccessful return emails since. Despite being able to still work as an AIN, I have to take instructions from other AINs and ENs to survive or else I have invested $30,000 to become unemployed. I have taken my complaint to members of parliament who only answered that “this is a tricky one” and they “had to think about it”. I am at a loss as other ex-students who are in the same position feel too embarrassed to speak out and stopped being in contact with each other as they feel this could have a negative impact on the slim chances of employment they feel they might still have. I never thought that it was possible to invest so much money to become unemployable in nursing.

  71. Hello, this is about New Zealand vs USA licensure. I obtained my RN and BSN in the USA 1985-87. I obtained my LPN license in the UK 1970. Before emigrating to New Zealand I held positions as a Staff Nurse, In-Service Director, Nursing Director LTCF, Nursing Director Home Care/Hospice. My qualifications were accepted by the Nursing Board of New Zealand and I was issued a Practicing Certificate in 1999. I worked briefly as a Hospice Nurse, however, when my mother became ill I took care of her until her death six years later. In order to have some kind of income I took in B&B guests. A nurse does not lose their license in the USA if not working in health care, as long as 24 education contact hours are completed biannually. The USA Nursing Boards assign responsibility to the nurse professional and/or the health care facility hiring the nurse to provide a refresher course or orientation program. The USA Nursing Boards allow the nurse to have the means, a license, in order to re-enter the workforce.

    Not so in New Zealand. Your license is revoked if you have not completed 450 hours of nursing practice and 60 hours of professional development over a three year period. And so, I completed a six week, Return to Nursing Competency Course, after which, my Practicing Certificate was re-instated. However, I was not able to find a job in the one year timeframe until license renewal. Now, after spending several thousand dollars to complete the above course, my license has been revoked again and I cannot afford to complete yet another Return to Nursing Course.

    My 25 years of nursing experience is on the rubbish heap. I love living in NZ and I do not wish to leave my husband in order to find a job as a nurse in the USA. Has any other nurse in NZ had a similar experience?

  72. Hear, hear! Reading this is very eery, as this is exactly my experience with nursing!
    I’ve finished my degree for 6 months now, with all the praise and great grades, went well with an interview, but here I am still working at Safeway, now fulltime as I cannot afford to be without income like I was at uni.
    The most frustrating part? Everyone saying how every single hospital is ‘dying for nurses’ and I can get a job easily. What a crock of sh*t. I’m too reaching my expiry on my registration and here I am considering if I should just stay at Safeway. What a bright and wonderful world for the unlucky people who missed out on a grad year. May as well just have burned that $30,000, sleepless nights, lack of social life and study and just took up an apprenticeship at school.

  73. Aslhley Laver – you do not state where you are from. Have you recently finished your degree in the United States or New Zealand? I am confused and just wondering where you are located?

  74. Personally, as an unemployed new graduate nurse I am ready to work for just half of normal salary for 1-2 years literally anywhere to get my foot in the door.

    • Of course while this is understandable on an individual level, it is dangerous as a strategy for the unemployed – if employers found that they could take on new grads at half the usual salary, of course they would drop their new grad programs and cut wages and employ the cheapest labour! So you’d be doing yourself out of a longterm career with good pay and conditions.

  75. I’m so relieved to read these comments which maybe rather selfish of me. Reason being I’m mature aged and thought my age wasn’t helping but seeing all these lovely bright young girls failing to achieve a position also makes me realise it isn’t age.

    I totally disagree with Gary’s comment above which intimates those less motivated don’t get jobs. I have an excellent resume and references and am extremely motivated like most other students who have self-financed and done it tough during training. I also know exceptionally talented girls who are extremely competitive and articulate to be unemployed and without grad program.

    Here in WA, there is a freeze on all Health Department jobs until 30 June. No progressions for any position or applications will be received whatsoever for any position. So for us due to graduate in a month who are awaiting offers and declines on grad programs, it’s a torrid time.

    I wish I’d chosen another re-training program tbh especially when the wonderful people on my final placement were all awaiting their job cut letters as the service was being closed!

  76. I have been working as a nurse now for about 10 years, it’s a very hard job, but I love it. I have a wealth of previous experience in IT, accounting, sales, metal fabrication, etc.

    At times the economy is up and down, jobs may be or not be available. Hang in there, you are still ok, that job you always wanted will be available,
    meanwhile try to be flexible and get another type of job.

    Any job relates to life experience and it may be better for your nursing career in the long term.

    It will help you identify with your patients.

    Remember, it’s not alway ideal just being a nurse.

    I read some comments of people saying that there are openings in aged care
    nursing home, how good is that, presently I work in an emergency department, and we always get the elderly, if we had lots more nurses going to aged care facilities, it would really help out the situation.

    Imagine how good it will be to have a great nursing team in an aged care
    facility, I feel it would be really rewarding, and very soon with our aging
    population it would be very well appreciated.

    Overall be flexible, be determined, use any experience to weave yourself into being a better nurse, people would appreciate your efforts of trying to still be a nurse even after a few years of doing something else.

    That’s life, make the most of it.

  77. I am nearly one year out of finishing my degree and I did not get a new grad position in NSW – and I applied for private hospitals too.
    I worked as an AIN in a nursing home throughout my degree and luckily they let me go from an AIN to RN. Being a nursing home RN can be extremely overwhelming at times, I have up to 34 people to look after during a shift. Also something I did not expect was lack of support from some older more experienced RNs. Most were very helpful and have given me so much education over my year there, but some not so. Also working with AINs, being fresh out of uni they did not always follow my instructions as they didn’t agree with what I would do – some had been AINs for 20 years.
    A lot of people told me I was wasting my time in a nursing home – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I have learnt so much about caring for older people, different conditions and medication management. While I lack skills in IVs etc. I have no doubt what I have learnt in this year will help no matter what speciality I go into.
    I would definitely urge new grads to try aged care, whilst it is overwhelming at times, majority of the time your shift runs smoothly. Also i don’t do a rotating roster which is a bonus, I don’t work weekends or nightshifts!
    I am eager to get a position in a hospital, but often my experience doesn’t match the criteria. But I know I will always have a job in aged care now.

  78. Hi all, Firstly, never say never 🙂 There is always hope. I know it seems like you have been given a bum-steer with regards to your future employment potential, but you only lose when you give up trying.

    Secondly, what I have said above is supported by my own experience. I have been an Endorsed Enrolled Nurse for almost 10 years. I got bored 5 years ago and decided to further my education. My choices were: 1. Nursing Degree (RN) or
    2. Law degree.

    I chose to do Law because I had been virtually guaranteed a great future with better $$ than as an RN.

    Well, I graduated Law school 6 months ago, also did a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice concurrently (also graduated 6 months ago).

    However, here I am still working as an EEN earning $25 p/h as a casual community nurse care worker.

    There a pretty much ZERO new grad positions for Law grads 🙁 Especially when I live about 200kms from Sydney.

    Some research has suggested that last year alone there were 700 new grads in NSW alone with only around 300 of them finding new grad positions, usually as a result of knowing someone in the profession.

    Unfortunately I knew nobody and am 47 years of age. SO now I have a $85,000 HECS debt and a failing enthusiasm.

    I am now looking at doing either a Graduate Diploma in Education (DipEd) or my RN.

    It would be really easy for me to go ‘F^$k this’ and give up. But that’s not me. I will just keep going and study and work until things improve. One door closes and another one opens 🙂

    Anyway, yes it is a sad state of affairs that so many Uni grads struggle to find work. But you must be strong and accept it as a challenge and grow stronger from the situation. Determination can achieve so much if you believe you can do it.

    Good luck everyone and I am sure things will work out eventually.

    Cheers, Pookie

  79. I am a newly registered nurse and my best advice for you would be to get into aged care first, get around 6+ months experience and then you are more likely to be picked for hospital work, also LinkedIn is amazing for connecting with fellow nurses and hospital organisations which will get your foot just that little bit more in the door. They say it’s about what you know not who you know, but I can assure you that knowing the right people makes a BIG difference; befriend people that are already in the industry or hospital/ward you want to try for, their word may very well be the one that gets you in… Don’t give up. but trust me starting in aged care is the right way to go, thats where most nurses go wrong because they don’t want to do the aged care thing. It’s pretty important. Hope this helps 😀

    • I agree Michael. I worked as an AIN and studied to become an RN. I then worked at the same nursing home that I’d worked in as an AIN. I had great time management skills due to this. When working at the nursing home I didn’t have a problem with staff as I had my job to do and they had theirs. One thing I did learn is don’t try to change a culture that other RNs and upper management have turned a blind eye to or support; as long as there is no harm to the clients or other nurses. I was able to take this experience and transferred at level to a rural hospital. I have then taken all this experience and am now working in corrections. Cheers Lynda

  80. I keep applying for a new grad program in age care across Australia as well as in rural and remote hospitals and still no luck, despite my two years experience as AIN in different units of hospital. I would be happy to start my career in aged care, but alas.

  81. I’m still having trouble understanding, as someone with a Masters in Nursing myself, why you would pursue a Masters program before even working in the profession?

    • At the time of applying for university courses, USYD only offered master’s courses (they have now reinstated bachelor’s though). It was a matter of accepting whichever course I was offered a Commonwealth Supported Place in.
      I hope you’re not implying undergraduate nurses shouldn’t aim for a higher degree before joining the workforce?

    • Amanda, I’m not sure I understand who your comment is directed to. Who on this forum is pursuing their Master’s degree before even working in the nursing profession??

    • Hi Amanda,
      The Masters program offered by USyd is for those who already have an undergraduate degree in another subject area, that is, it’s a pre-registration program to allow for those wanting a career change.
      Kind regards,

  82. I have completely given up on our health system and am now going to write to the government advising them to cut the health budget and stop training nurses. All the nursing jobs are going to overseas nurses, ENs and PCAs. Enrolled Nurses are taking over the roles of Registered Nurses, but they work for less pay as they have not done the training RNs do. ENs and PCAs think RNs are useless and no one seems to respect anyone any more. The standards of care are getting worse, bullying is out of control and our health system is no longer a safe place for healing. Taxpayers should not have to put up with this and they most certainly should not be paying for this substandard system.

  83. I have completely given up on our health system and I am now going to write to the government advising them to cut health budget and stop training nurses.
    All the nursing jobs are going to overseas nurses, EN, and PCAs.
    Enrolled Nurses are taking over the roles of Registered Nurses, but they work for less pay as they have not done the training that RNs do.
    ENs and PCAs think RNs are useless and no one seems to respect anyone anymore.
    The standards of care are getting worse, bullying is out of control and our health system is no longer a safe place for healing.
    Taxpayers should not have to put up with this and they most certainly should not be paying for this substandard system.

  84. Lisa, you sound like an unemployed RN. I’m guessing you were one of the many New Grads who were not successful in securing a NG placement? I agree with you that the unis need to drastically lower the number of new registered nurses being trained. I completely disagree with you that ENs etc. think thst RNs are useless. Many (but not all) ENs I know are hoping to become RNs themselves in the future.

  85. It has become very difficult even for a RN with 19 years Cardiothoracic/Cardiology experience like me to secure a permanent fulltime RN position in any hospitals. I have been working as a casual RN in a 600+ bed NSW public hospital for 2 years now after resigning from the public & private hospitals in 2010 & 2012. I couldn’t secure a fulltime position hence joined casual pool. I have been searching for suitable positions since 2012. I have applied for a few in 2 private and 1 public hospitals. One of the private hospitals rejected my application for a Cardiothoracic RN position. Selection Criteria: minimum 5 years Cardiothoracic experience. There’s the catch there; senior nurses are too expensive. Demands are more than supply. One has to “cast the net wide” when applying for jobs to get responses. Make a good impression in interviews, from attire to presentation – smile & be confident. We can only do our best as interviewees. We have no control over who to employ as it is the organisation’s decision. Prepare, rehearse & study your topics. There are hundreds of applications for 1 position. I have since undergone 2 job interviews & waiting for outcomes. Agree that the government should stop employing foreign nurses and reduce the intake of nursing students as there are insufficient jobs for nurses, both new graduate and senior nurses alike. I am not even surviving as a casual RN as the hospital has been closing beds every week. Last 2 weeks, 60 beds were closed; casuals like me were not needed as shortages were filled in by permanent staff as they were deployed to work in other wards.
    Good luck &a all the best to all the new graduate nurses and experienced nurses alike.

  86. Hi Gloria, I came upon this page as I was searching for the same ‘worry’ as you. So how has your situation progressed? Have you gotten a nursing job? When did you graduate? I am in the same boat as you and was hoping if you have good news as it will give me hope to persevere.

    Editor’s note: Yes Gloria did secure a new grad place after a few months of looking, in a rural town some hours from Sydney.

  87. I have a Commercial degree and have a similar story with regards to looking for work but I’m not going to get into that here. I want to reassure those who are struggling to find work that they are not alone.
    Admittedly I can only speak for the South Australian job market, which is quite poor at the moment. Further to this, the current ‘unemployment rates’ don’t seem to reflect what is actually happening in the Australian job market (maybe this is because there are many people looking for work currently who have been retrenched and are living off of their retrenchment packages and are not classified as unemployed yet). I am getting frustrated with constant oversight on the government’s behalf of this problem.
    I believe that the roots to the high unemployment go back a few decades…there has been a growing trend in Australia over the last 30 years to replace Australian workers with either technology or lower paid overseas workers. I remember being told in the 1980s that the technology would mean we would all work less, but all I see is that were there were once two jobs, one has been laid off and the other now works much harder and longer for the same amount of money.

  88. Thanks Gloria for your story. I am not surprised by this. I completed a management degree in 2003 and it never helped me get a decent job. I am now a first year EN student. I am happy to be a carer first when I graduate and hopefully that will help me later on. There are always lots of carer jobs out there, so maybe grad ENs can get their foot in the door that way? Continuing studies is probably a good way to keep your registration up. Good luck to everyone looking for grad jobs.

  89. I have been an RN since 2001 and worked in public, private and rural hospitals. I still enjoy being a nurse but nowadays my first priority is my young family and a feel I am being punished for that. My eldest son is 6, closely followed by my next son aged 4 and another son aged 3. So to point out the obvious I had my children quickly and chose to be a stay at home mum. My husband is busy running a small business and is away on random work trips. Now at this point I take my hat off to working families that maintain a 2 parent working household. I couldn’t do it and I don’t want to. But I shouldn’t be made to work under supervision for 3 months (fulltime equivalent) or complete a RN re-entry program! If I am supposed to choose one of the options, well I choose none! Firstly, I simply cannot work fulltime, I don’t want to put my kids into care so I can work. And secondly I am not paying $8K to gain re-entry into nursing when I already spent 5 years at uni to gain a degree! I would rather spend that $8K and do something else. And this is because I didn’t meet AHPRA’s standard of 3 months full time employment in 5 years (because I was having a family), which I may add didn’t come into play until the middle of 2010. I have read a lot of the previous posts and it is clear I am not alone. I feel for the new Grads too. I want to write a very carefully worded letter to tell them exactly what I think and where they can stick their proposal!

    • I am in a very similar position Steph. I graduated as an RN in 2000, working fulltime in a variety of both hospital, day surgery and clinic settings, even as a clinic manager. I chose to have 2 children just 16 months apart so I could be a stay at home mum until they were both in fulltime schooling. When I made this decision, the WA Government was offering a re-entry program, free of charge – consisting of an online theory component and 4 weeks supervised practical placement. My intention was to complete this course once my children were both school age. During my time as a stay at home mum the course was stopped and I am now faced with the $8000+ courses on offer through Ramsay Healthcare or a nursing college in the city as my only viable option of returning to my career.
      After 10 years of being out of practice, my degree with be totally worthless, so I am now running out of time to make a decision. Having read the recent post about the inflexibility of nursing shifts when trying to juggle a husband that works fulltime and 2 children, I am not even sure if it is worth the cost and sacrifices to complete the re-entry courses on offer if I am not going to be able to find a family-friendly workplace that can offer set shifts and part time hours.
      To top it all off, my qualification, experience and skills as a Registered Nurse are essentially worthless in any other field. Very disheartening.

      • There are so many similar stories right across Australia, but is anything being done? Or can anything be done? The whole system seems very unfair and discriminatory in nature.

  90. I have over 30 years as an RN and feel dismayed for those entering into this. My son is in first year at uni doing nursing and I worry for his future too. Where I work there are about 60% of RNs from overseas. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all, but I don’t understand why they are getting jobs and new grads aren’t. The excuse is not they have “experience” and new grads don’t, because it takes us 6-12 months to get them familiar to how we do it.

    I wish my son would change degrees, because what I read here makes me even more concerned.

    PS Don’t think it’s any better in rural. Jobs seem to go to “who knows who” mentality.

  91. I graduated in 1992 and the year before us were the last ones to walk out of the uni into jobs. I sent over 200 applications all over Australia to no avail. I ended up getting an interview for a postgrad program at a hospital and was accepted, only to get a phone call a few weeks before I was to start to say their funding for the program had been cut! I continued on for another 6 months trying to get work as an RN and eventually the hospital that was going to run the postgrad program rang me and asked if I could work straight on the ward? I told her straight that I wouldn’t know until I tried. I worked there for over 5 years before I left for another state.
    It is very disheartening when you get rejected before you even start.
    I am now studying to be a midwife after being away from nursing for 19 years – I can’t go back to nursing because I have been away from it for more than ten years and I can’t do the ‘certificate of competency’ because of the same reason – oh AND I don’t have $10,000 to pay them upfront!

  92. is there any chance to find graduate RN position for half or one year with no payment?
    I am ready to work full time one year for free.

    • We would certainly not support you in working for free for any length of time – imagine if all new grads said they would do this (impossible for most people!) That would mean the employer could significantly lower wages for everyone – so this would really work against you for your longterm career!

  93. I graduated this April and registered in July.

    I had an interview with community mental health and thought it was successful because they asked the date of my possible starting and said ‘see you later’. But they haven’t called me back.

    After that I applied to several new grad programs however they haven’t called. I am getting more and more stressed about this situation. I might not get any positions, then what can I do? Just work as an AIN like before?
    I’ve started to say to persons wanting to become RN, don’t. Most of them do not hear this reality.

  94. I realise that the poster Red Caviar is desperate to work in the nursing field, but I believe if they actually knew how hard ward nurses work (both physically and mentally) they would not even consider the option of working for free! We work in highly stressful, extremely demanding environments where we are totally drained spiritually, mentally and physically at the end of our shift. As it stands now, nurses are not nearly compensated well enough for the level of work they do!

  95. I sympathise with everyone here. I run a small grad program in another state. Statewide, including private facilities, there are 77 graduate positions every year, but the local university keeps increasing its intake of student nurses and now enrols over 1000 every year. Everyone knows someone who is a student nurse and the real tragedy is, they are often people who failed to get a job after graduating from another discipline (such as law, arts, sciences, etc), who took on the additional HECS burden of a nursing degree because the university school of nursing staff are still telling them: ‘there’s a massive shortage of nurses: you’ll walk into a job at the end of your degree’. Unfortunately, that’s not entirely true and they forget to mention that the shortage is wholly of nurses with more than one year of experience: there’s no shortage of graduate nurses at all in Australia. Anyway, one of my better friends has been sucked in by this spiel now and despite my advice that places in graduate programs are hotly contested, continues to believe she will be one of the 77 chosen out of a predicted 600 graduates for her year for a graduate program. I should point out that there are now over 1000 unemployed nursing graduates in my state now (Tasmania), with no hope of gaining employment, so much so that the local paper ran a story recently about a grocer advertising for a checkout chick and receiving 400 applications, 350 of whom had university degrees (and no checkout experience).

    My advice: grads need to think really laterally about employment. If you don’t get on a grad program straight away, then you need to be proactive and almost aggressive about getting something in the profession, as it’s clear that the more days that pass after your graduation, the less employable you are. If you’re unemployed for a year, then it’s time to think about another career: you won’t be able to compete against the new crop of grads.

    And for god’s sake, don’t take a gap year after you finish: it’s a coffin nail for your application for entry into any grad program.

  96. Looking at studying nursing/midwifery next year in Australia, however what I’ve read worries me somewhat. I’ve always wanted to do some volunteer work overseas. After I graduate, if I find it difficult to secure work in a hospital during the first 12months, will gaining some work experience as a volunteer overseas help me to secure paid work when I return to Australia?

    • As an employer, I don’t believe that overseas volunteer work would help secure a position. It is supply and demand. There is an oversupply of graduates and RNs with 1-2 years experience and not enough experienced RNs. My advice to anyone considering nursing – don’t do nursing! Do a certificate 111 in aged care or disability (www.training.gov.au), get a job, then see if you like it first. If you do, then maybe further your career through the disability or aged care sector. There are many incentives for workers in these areas, including government funding, that will help you gain additional qualifications. You may then credits towards a degree later on. I think it is wise to look at a different pathway than university.

      • Hi Cate. I’m a nursing student with one year left to finish my course and to graduate in 2016. I’m thinking about going straight into disability sector. However, I lack information about the opportunities as well as support programs for graduates. If you know about it, can you share it with me? I study nursing because I want to help people, but my passion is not that real “acute care” nursing. I want to do something rewarding and beneficial to our community. Thank you in advance.

        • Hi Danny
          There are many opportunities in the Disability sector and this will only increase due to the NDIS due to accountability of funding. I would start by contacting larger organisations in your area for a support worker role – remember that many positions are not advertised, this may be due to costs, time and low response rates.
          If you can get some experience before you graduate this will give you the general experience that employers are looking for.
          I am not sure which state you are in, however there is an advanced diploma of disability (training.gov.au) that you may be able to tap into some funding and complete for a very minimal cost (you will get some credits for your nursing units). In QLD its called the Certificate 3 Guarantee. If you can secure a position in a disability service, they may also have some funding available for you to complete additional qualifications. Don’t get to caught up with grad programs – some organisations don’t offer one – you’re after the experience and a foot in the door. My advice is don’t wait until you graduate, it is too late then (I am not trying to be alarmist, it’s just reality). Get a resume together and start knocking on doors. Remember that interviewers look for 3 things – knowledge, experience and attitude. You might not have all the knowledge and experience but sell your attitude (willing to learn, listen, reliable, friendly, team player, can take direction etc). Remember to be flexible, you may go into management, training (have a look at training.gov.au at the Certificate 1V TAE) or direct care. Be open to doing more study – not necessarily a postgrad uni qual. Good luck and I would be interested if you kept me posted.

  97. Jane Gower, you are spot on! Every word you said is 100% true!
    Sorry to tell you this Ann Marie but doing volunteer work will not give you any advantage at all, neither will working as a (paid) AIN. Many unemployed new grads (NGs) who were unsuccessful in securing a NG position had previously worked as ENs, undergrad nurses and AINs for several years before applying for a NG position. Unfortunately there are simply very few jobs and even fewer NG positions now and it gets worse every year! If a graduate nurse has not obtained employment within one year of graduating, their chances of working as an RN are slim.

    • Jane is in Tasmania which is a particularly bad situation for new grad nurses (and in fact many other jobs). It’s important to remember that the situation is not as bad in NSW, where probably at least 80% of graduates do get a new grad placement (exact figures are hard to come by – and of course not all graduates decide to work as nurses.)

      • In WA new grad programs are in great shortage. Agencies can’t take on new grads because we supply experienced nurses to cover nursing shortfall. Look outside the square for grad programs, maybe theatre or ICU to begin with; the experience you receive there will help when you transfer to wards or other departments. I worked agency weekends and in a small hospital that has closed now while I took 16 years full time off to raise 3 children. Keep your registration up even if it means doing one day a week in an aged care facility.
        Universities promoting nurse jobs and shortages is tantamount to fraud.

  98. NU_Admin, I agree that Tassie has been especially hard-hit for NG positions, but I completely disagree with your figure of 80% grads securing NG positions. In our uni alone, more than 30% were not successful in obtaining a NG placement and according to the Dean at our uni, other unis had even more NGs who were not offered a NG position. I think your stats are far too high.

  99. I need advice. I want to apply to an Australian university for Master of Nursing as an international student, but with all am reading here, it seems I should retreat. Though I am a registered nurse midwife and a degree holder from my country. Do you advise me to go ahead and apply?

    • I would strongly advise against. I have assisted career development paths of staff attempting to enter the profession through casual bank with international backgrounds, repatriate grad nurses who could not secure. ongoing positions permanently after successfully completing graduate years and ex graduates attempting to undertake a Masters of Nursing straight out of their grad year, unsuccessfully. Basically if you do not have a foothold in a permanent, ongoing contract in an organisation it is pointless in both exercise and from a financial point of view. I have to say to you what an American Director of Nursing of a major Melbourne Health network once said to a colleague of mine who was attempting to do similar but in America, coming from Australia: “why would they employ you with that when they already have plenty of their own citizens with the same?!”. Needless to say he was devastated but she tried to save him the most costly mistake of his career. He battled for 2 years before he gave up finding a hospital interested. It doesn’t matter what you offer right now, if states have no jobs and already have people who are Registered Nurses, qualified Midwives with degrees with Masters of Nursing, they aren’t going to import anyone.

      • I agree with Virginia – I believe it would be a waste of time and money. I advise overseas nurses to do an advanced diploma in disability or a Certificate 1v in TAE and then become a trainer as there are more opportunities. Go to training.gov.au and shop around as the fees vary drastically between providers. Good luck

      • I think age will matter a bit, but for this case it will be in your advantage. IMHO employers like new grad nurses that are mature.

    • Slim but not impossible, but I agree it is becoming clear that states are favouring state-trained in the first 2 years after graduation. There’s simply too much competition from within states for positions in Grad programs. Can only say a) do not take a hiatus; b) look for programs that did not fill; c) concentrate on public programs but if push comes to shove the inferiority of a private hospital program trumps no program (and job) at all. Universities have a lot to answer for pumping up course volume when there’s little demand. Make no mistake, hospitals are blaming unis for basically over-servicing the public interest and over-supply of end product.

  100. I know this is a little left field but have any of you considered joining Defence? If you have already (or about to) complete your degree, you should consider any of the forces. You can also apply to do your degree via Defence for those who have not started – they give you heaps of support and you basically have a guaranteed job at the end. While there are risks, it is a secure job with lots of perks and long term support via Veteran’s Affairs.

    They can certainly utilise your skills. While I trained in the old system then did my degree and then did training overseas, when I returned to Aus I was in a similar position to a lot of what is being said here. I had to look laterally. I work in clinical governance for a LHD (I considered myself too old and unfit for Defence). By comparison, my boys are in Defence. Top cutting edge work. Huge support. Wide variety of work in Australia and overseas deployment. Yes there are risks but the benefits often can outweigh those risks. The experience and skill development is monumental. They are constantly developing skills (unlike hospitals) and looking to make things work better for their patients. It’s not just about skirmishes and battles but supporting local communities and setting up clinics even in remote places.
    You can get information via the Reserves or via ADFA or via general recruitment (each have pros and cons). It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but is worth considering. Had I been younger I would have gone down this route when I returned to Aus.

  101. I know the situation is disheartening, but do not give up. I spent 6 months after graduating grieving over the fact that I did not get into a NGP. I kept calling up different hospitals, managers and calling up the number to speak to the person in charge of that particular job advertised on the gov health job site. I spoke to them about my situation and said that I was highly keen to work there. Some of them were happy to take my resume and have a look. My advice, apply to every job that you can, give them a call, talk to them and even turn up the ward and have a chat in person with them.

    After 9 months after graduating, I have gotten a couple of interviews at some public hospitals. I have finally received an email (for Online Orientation) from a hospital saying that I’m their preferred candidate (I’m just waiting for that phone call and job offer letter). Although it’s a casual position in a casual pool (for a particular unit/ward), I am very happy and it’s a local hospital too (maybe working at a local hospital is more employable because casual shifts means you have to be very flexible with your availability). Try to stay a bit optimistic.

    Even after an interview, give them a call, ask them how the interview is going and that you’re really desperate and really need this job. Maybe they will consider you after the interviews have been conducted.

  102. I am a nurse of 35 years, having trained in the hospital system then doing my degree and post grad in theatre 17years later. So I have trained under both systems and now work for an agency dealing with fallout of too many nurses graduating from 5 universities and not enough grad programs available. Still the hospital do a big recruitment drive overseas because they want nurses to ‘hit the ground running’ and not spend money mentoring them.
    With hospital training, you knew within the first 6 weeks if it was the career that suited you and if you suited nursing. Also the hospital had nurses working their way up the experience tree, so that by the 3rd year you were competent to manage a ward. At the end their training after 3 years you then became a staff nurse (the equivalent to grad program). Student nurses were paid enough that they did not need to work outside of training, not like our university counterparts.
    The problems associated with University training were that nurses were not out in the “real World’ prac until semester 3-4 and ones who didn’t enjoy it stayed on to finish “cause they were halfway through”. They also had to work to earn an income, after class and in semester breaks, creating tiredness and increase stress loads, which then impacts on patient care. We have five Universities graduating 100-200 nurses a year but only limited placements for grad programs. Where will our nurses go and why not put them on the floor as supernummary, to alleviate nursing shortages?
    Take less intakes for nursing degrees until full employment of Grads is satisfied.

  103. There is now a significant amount of input on this site covering quite a number of jurisdictions. Has anyone considered collating the information and writing a letter to the respective Ministers of Health, Director General and Chief Nursing Officer to outline the problems in a cogent way? It doesn’t seem to be something that will be resolved without people at this level being involved in the discussion and devising of a solution. All too often they are not aware a problem exists.

  104. Someone mentioned in another thread on this website a couple of days ago that Healthscope hospitals have lifted their experience requirements for newly graduated nurses and will accept them straight into the casual pool. I rang one of their facilities in NSW, one in Tasmania and one in Victoria and I can confirm this is the case.

    • For those grads interested in positions out of the state, in Tasmania the following hospitals/institutions cannot get nursing staff for love nor money and are very interested in recruiting grads (but offer no grad program, just a simple hospital orientation):

      1. Hobart Private Hospital (inc. casual pool)
      2. Calvary Hospital (Hobart and Launceston)
      3. Hobart District Nursing Service (community and palliative care)
      4. Huon Eldercare (Port Huon and Dover)
      5. Onecare (Hobart)
      6. Southern Cross Care (Hobart)
      7. Queen Victoria (Hobart)
      8. Healthcare Australia (Burnie)

      Just an additional sweetener: the average 2-bedroom house in Hobart costs about $300 a week to rent (Launceston and Burnie less) and the average take home wage for a base level nurse doing full time shift work is about $2200 a fortnight (more if you are casual). Fares to Melbourne cost $115 one way, fares to Sydney $147.

      I have no affiliation with these hospitals, facilities and institutions but I know senior managers in them all. They have all advertised for staff recently and had no takers. They welcome grads with open arms.

      • Before any grads jump in and call those numbers, do your homework. I’ve just finished a year in Tasmania and would advise that:

        1. Look through the Coroner’s Court cases in Tasmania (available online). There’s a few unpleasant cases involving poorly supported grads and especially new grads put onto nights on day one of their employment (= coroner’s case).

        2. Most nurses in Tassie get one job and keep it for life. There’s nurses down there that are in their 70s who’ve had the same job since their early 20s, I kid you not. It’s not exactly dynamic, progressive practice.

        3. Because it’s so claustrophobic, the bullying is severe.

        4. There’s absolutely nothing at all to do in Hobart, Launceston and (especially) Burnie if you are under 35.

        So do your research first, find out why these places can’t get staff and most of all, look into the lifestyle issues that may affect you. Hobart is definitely not Melbourne or Sydney.

      • Hi Bess, Your post is giving me a spark of hope! I have been researching these last months about a career change and have applied to do nursing and midwifery. But this thread has made me extremely anxious that I am making a good choice! I’m from SA and have a young family and we would love to move to Tasmania for a few years. How do you know that these hospitals would be interested in new grads? Hoping to hear back from you!

  105. I hope that there is some sort of support for the Grads, as we know that just learning a procedure and how to work some equipment at Uni does not show competency on the floor. I hope they look into some support program and inservices, as New Grads in casual pool will not allow them to consolidate and feel secure. Being sent all over the hospital, there will be complaints and issues with their inexperience.

    • I hope so too. Between myself and my own manager, we benchmarked a support program for our network for ex grads being repatriated to Pool after not securing ongoing roles. I developed several learning packages tailored for support in general specialty areas and it was the first in the industry, and highly successful, to support Pool staff working all over the hospital. We then transitioned it to a 2nd phase where we introduced it to new and senior Bank staff. It can be done. We did it. And you’re right, it is missing from hospitals.

  106. I have just finished my grad year. I was offered a spot in a casual pool starting in a week. Now I find out I am not put on the roster for a whole month as there is no work for me…the issues still continue post graduate year! The nursing system is wrong…I have worked in two different careers (teaching and hospitality) for the past 21 years and never been out of work! Nursing was meant to offer job opportunities… I now am starting to regret the career change. 🙁

    • Don’t worry – casuals always get calls cos permanent staff get sick. Also your degree will never be wasted – you know so much about health science. Don’t be discouraged – work will come. I would walk into a few nurse managers’ offices in your area and present yourself with your resume. Seeing your face and your attitude is what gets you the jobs. Hang in there

    • Unfortunately a lot can change in healthcare in as little as 12 months and it is sometimes near impossible to get your hands on cold hard data that informs the success rates of being employed after graduation. Nursing for too many decades has been used as a fallback position by the public when unable to procure satisfactory employment means in other chosen industries. Too many times the presumption has been made if you can’t get a job elsewhere there are plenty of jobs in nursing (this is a historical fact, not recent). I can honestly say, after clinically supervising nursing students on placement, 3/4 of them have no idea why they are there, what they have signed up for and are not suited to the role or the industry and that’s the truth. Potential students are still working off anecdotal evidence about the nursing industry, much of it out of date. It’s devastating for individuals who have actually made informed decisions and sacrifices to career change.

  107. We are finishing our New Grad in a mid-sized Sydney hospital this month. Even though our employment contract states we are permanent employees after we complete our NG program, we were just informed that our hospital does not have enough full-time positions to keep many of us. That means more than half of us will be sent to other hospitals in our local district. Some of these hospitals are far away, have no parking available & that means they are impossible for some of us to travel to from where we live. I have spoken to other NGs at our hospital & not one of us ever thought we would be shipped out to other hospitals & placed anywhere they had an opening. One of the reasons many of us chose this hospital in the first place was because we were guaranteed a f/t position upon completion of our NG. I myself will not be able to travel to any of the other 3 hospitals because they are simply too far away from where I live! What a stupid system!

      • Jess
        Nursing has one of the lowest ATAR scores of all health science based professions. It’s not competitive at all to enter a nursing degree. The ATAR score needs to be commensurate with the type of work the student is being prepred to do. This year marks 30 years since the first higher education based courses began in NSW supposedly to raise the standards of nursing education.

  108. Hi Amanda,
    Thank you for the reply. I figured that’s what you meant but needed to clarify. I am North American & I can attest to the fact that in the USA & Canada – your marks have to be well above 80% overall to even get in the door of a university to study a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) which is a 4 year degree not like here in Australia where the degree is a 3 year Bachelor of Nursing (BN). I studied nursing here & was constantly amazed at how low the academic standards were. Students unable to get more than barely a pass in most subjects, unable to write case studies with adequate grammar, failing basic maths tests several times & still being able to get a degree! I completely comprehend what you are saying. Students with academic deficiencies like that would never be accepted into any uni in America or Canada. I don’t understand why our standards for nursing academia are so low here ??

    • With you on this one Jess. I taught in the BN program for years and I can absolutely attest that between 1999 and 2010 (when I finished), the academic requirements for entry were below “low”. I won’t name the specific universities I worked for, but they are all big and each used the following criteria as a cut off point for entry:

      1. One Tasmanian university was quite prepared to offer places on the basis of the applicants’ Life experience. That is, the Uni was prepared to forego all academic requirements and prerequisites if you were a mature age student (over 30).

      2. One large SA uni sent out five consecutive rounds of offers to high school students before their exams if they would accept an offer there and then for nursing. That is, if the student accepted the offer, there was no requirement for them to sit their final high school exams.

      3. The third largest school of nursing in Australia since 2001 has had no English language proficiency requirements for entry to the BN course and accepts overseas applicants on the basis of a statutory declaration stating their qualifications (which is not checked). These students have done so badly that the Uni has set up a special team of 15 people in Sydney to assist these students though the course. That is, they do the assignments for the students who tell the team member what they think should go into the assignment.

      4. Two universities, one in SA and one in NSW, persist with the practice of sending out offers to high school students who fail to get any of their preferred options on their Uni entrance application an offer for nursing. As the Prof of one of these schools once told me “there’s plenty to be found at the bottom of the barrel: we have no problem recruiting”!

      The sad thing was, for every 7 absolute rubbish students, there were 3 stars, but the 30% of passionate, dedicated, intelligent students were simply drowned by the 70% of students who did nursing as either a last resort or afterthought.

      And as for the Unis themselves, very few of the lecturers were more qualified than the students they taught. By my recollection, over 90% of lecturers had only a basic degree, the remaining 10% all had honours and less than 1% held Masters or Doctorates. I worked with at least a dozen lecturers and senior lecturers who were hospital trained, held no university qualifications at all and yet held senior academic positions.

      As an ‘older’ nurse, I’m starting to use the hospital system a bit now and I can see that we are definitely paying for the very low standards we have expected of nursing recruits for the last 20 years.

      • Hi Bess, I am absolutely gobsmacked after reading your posting! I was fortunate to attend a very good uni in Sydney where all the lecturers held Master’s degrees & some held PhDs. All were very highly experienced & highly trained professionals, but I have noticed the calibre of students being enticed to study nursing has really deteriorated. Why have the standards for nursing here in Australia fallen so low? It defies all logic!

  109. Hi Jess,
    In America do the nurses have aides to help with cleaning etc? Here in Australia there are none in public hospitals so RNs have to do everything, I’ve even been told by the hospital cleaner to clean poo off the ground as they are not allowed to clean it. Maybe that’s the reason why uni scores are so low because no one wants to do the job. I think the registered nurse is more respected in America.

    • Hi Anu, sorry for the late reply. I can only speak firsthand about Canadian nursing as I am not American. We do have cleaners to clean the hospital – it is not the nurse’s job to clean. In saying that, I have to agree that nurses do not seem to get the same respect here in Oz (I work here in Oz now) that they get in Canada. As I stated in my last post, nurses in Canada & the US study for 4 years to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) & only the top academic high achievers are successful in gaining a place in university. Canadian nurses have a reputation for being highly trained & well respected professionals.

  110. Hi, I wondered if anyone in this position had considered going over to the UK and working in the NHS for a year or two. I believe that it is relatively easy for an Australian nurse to gain employment there and once you have the experience, come back home and enter the Australian healthcare system as an experienced nurse.

    Is this a viable option?

    • You need to apply for registration with the UK NMC while you are here as they want a whole raft of documentation and referees. Don’t go without it as too hard to arrange once over there.
      I went to work for 1 year but stayed 9 years after doing my Hons degree here but had also worked over here part time while I did my Hons research. The system is very different over there. I cannot stress this more.
      When I went over to the UK they had just converted enrolled nurses to be a registered nurse, by a flick of the pen (without formal course to convert) they became equivalent to a D grade. There are many ways to become a nurse in the UK – not necessarily by degree.
      If you have had any nursing experience on top of the degree, don’t sell yourself short. If working in London best to go through a nursing agency so you can see where you want to work and live. London is EXTREMELY expensive to live. Hence there is an extra loading on your wages if you work within the M25. You can get a lot of ‘research’ work in clinical trials. Great place to get a foot in. Must be meticulous with paperwork. While there are benefits to working in London (I worked in joint position with Kings College London (university) and Guys and St Thomas’ Trust) you can get good experience from Northern England like Leeds and Sheffield or Bristol, especially if university link.
      When I returned home after 9 years (worked in clinical research, genetics, was the Project manager who designed and set up the RA Centre in London in a dual role as the Research manager setting up biologic clinical trials; I also studied and qualified and registered as NP in UK – High H grade (nursing)) I was told by the NSW Nursing Board that I would need to retrain to work in Sydney. Go figure! At that time I was told the AMA didn’t want NPs. I didn’t re-train but got a job in Clinical Governance. I am now studying Law while working fulltime. Now if I want to work in UK, while I am still registered as an NP in the UK, I would also have to pay indemnity insurance.
      It was great experience. It is possible to land on your feet, however, it is not all rosy and doest guarantee you a job here later. Think strategically as to where you want to be in 5 years time and make little steps to make it happen, even if that would not be via a circumvented route.

  111. This is not confined to nursing or law. I did a radiography degree and was unable to gain a ‘professional development year’ so I went back to Uni and did a preregistration nursing masters. I now have a new grad in mental health and am enjoying it immensely.

  112. Considering how much emphasis USYD places on it’s pre-reg Master of Nursing program(s), it’s interesting that graduates of the program can have so much difficulty finding work. Of course, USYD isn’t responsible for the job market, but it goes to show it doesn’t necessarily make a huge difference what specific qualification you have. I wasn’t offered a place in the Masters program so I had to suck it up and apply for the Bachelor of Nursing (Advanced Studies) program at USYD (Which I am currently studying) despite having a Bachelor degree already. I’ve actually temporarily switched to part-time, so it will take even longer. However, I could have got into the two-year Masters program, finished it within the minimum amount of time and found it nearly impossible to find a job afterwards, which could definitely still happen after completing the BN, but I’m trying to make contact with various nursing agencies and Assistant in Nursing programs. It might not help me in finding work as an RN, but it’s worth a shot. One of the issues maybe is that there is quite a jump from heavily theory-based nursing at university to practical nursing in a healthcare setting. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the theory. My parents’ next-door-neighbour is a retired nurse in her 80s who studied nursing back when it was purely in hospital. She feels that modern nursing is too theory based since having moved to universities. I like that nursing is in universities. I like that there is an increased focus on science and evidence-based practice. However, I do feel it might have gone from one extreme to another, from 90% practical to 90% theory. Sure, there is the occasional placement, but I don’t feel practising on dummies and classmates and a couple of placements a year prepares us fully for the hands-on stuff. Or maybe it’s just my problem. There are uni programs like the BN at the UTAS campuses in Sydney who work with Rozelle Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital. I feel that nursing education would benefit from a better mix of theory and practice. We don’t have internships like newly graduated med students. Perhaps something like an internship for new nursing grads would help to bridge the gap.

  113. I know lots of white nurses who had a fixed job while just working as students on placement! The Nursing managers were like, “Ya , we want to see you white nurses back…congrats …you all have a job at our facility once you graduate after next week!” We black students were working our ass off and were told not to come back!
    Another wonderful real life example is also in the teaching field where one of my African friends had a Masters degree and failed her interview … the one who got the teaching job was a high school Aussie drop-out! LOL…this really happened!

    • Not just black people! Asians were treated the same way too. At the uni where I’m studying, clinical facilitators and educators always pick on Asian-looking students but seem very relaxed with the white ones. It’s more than racism, it’s actually prejudice. I think you just need to forget about it and move on. Jobs are plenty elsewhere, don’t be so disappointed!

  114. Yes nursing is more difficult because if you have done nursing in another country and you want to nurse in Australia then you will need to train in the Australian guidelines.

  115. I thought I was the only one that had this problem. However, now I know there are others too. I graduated from Deakin University with Distinctions in 2013. I applied for Peter Mac in Melbourne, unfortunately I made a mistake with the application and that was history. That changed my destiny. I am now 4 years out of uni and still without nursing work. I have applied for graduate positions, but am constantly told that I have to have completed my degree within one to one and a half years to be eligible. When I apply for work I am told I need more experience. I have continued my passion for oncology by joining the Oncology Nursing Society and doing courses with them, doing a graduate diploma in oncology nursing and now a masters, but the same old story comes up again, not enough experience. Recently, I have even been told that I cannot apply for a re-entry program because I am still registered as a nurse. I have also wanted to apply for remote scholarships, but again the same old story. It is as if no one cares. Besides, they have plenty of choices, a lot of nurses from overseas are pouring into the country and these nurses have years of experience. I may indeed end up having to leave nursing aspirations and if that occurs I will never go back. What a waste of time and effort.
    Thanks for your article. I can fully appreciate your position.

  116. The job situation has gone from bad to worse. Even after getting a grad position people don’t get jobs after their grad program. Also if you are an outsider it is very tough to get a full time job. The management treats and picks on outsiders in very unfair manner. If you have a non immigrant background you get a contract easily.

  117. Nursing, who’d have thought it’s such a cut-throat business? – male nurse here. OP is right. its very cut throat. ive been shoved out of a job because of office politics believe it or not! office politics in nursing! the hype about a lifetime job security seems like a conspiracy to dupe people into being nurses (which half of the case are essentially specialized housemaids.) because the world will need nurses true but there just isnt enough jobs or funding to pay their salaries. after 8 years im glad i was able to recover what ive invested in nursing and i hoping to get out of the nursing industry. its always been that way apparently. ive spent a quarter nearly a half of my life dedicating myself to nursing and im at the bottom rung of it close to being shoved out of the industry. lifetime job my ass. only if you’re willing to compete in the cut throat industry and scrape the bottom rung for scraps the alpha nurses dont want for the lowest pay “mike rowe” dirtiest roles you can get. now the carers have close to equal pay with nurses im considering just being a carer for a few more years just to save up so i can invest in some other line of livelihood. forget about having kids and a family. nurses arent paid a lot but it was the promise of a job security that made sure you can have a decent white picket fence family life. but now the promise of the security is gone it sours the deal. honestly for those of you just starting seriously rethink your options and go into real estate or building or mechanics or computers. taking up nursing for its security was the biggest scam i fell for in my entire life. all that sacrifice..all that hard work..all other “things” i had to sacrifice just for career advancement and instead of moving up im either movinvg down or stagnating. my cousins have families, houses, condominiums and various businesses and here i am begging for part time aged care roles just to keep the registration in the hopes of still having a successful future in nursing but it looks bleak for AT LEAST another 8 years. and im nearing 40 years soon. does anybody know what the US market is like? although im stuck in geriatrics and i doubt im getting any acute experience anytime anymore. the hospitals are crowded with new grads, older nurses and nurses with 4 to 5 years of foreign acute experience. i didnt expect it to be this competitive and cut throat. it takes its toll on a person’s body and emotions (im not afraid to admit even as a male. because i made sacrifices…) if there’s a kind soul to let me knw what the US is like for nurses? i have an idea of what australia is like through this website

  118. Gloria, I just saw this article and the replies. What are you doing now? I would be interested to know. My 23 year old daughter is in a similar position to you. Very disheartening for her.

    • Hi Denise,
      I was a nurse working in the rural hospital that Gloria started her nursing career with. And she was great, had a real heart for her patients, and was a fun person to work with!
      she moved back to Sydney for a while and proud to say she’s come back to the country – next biggest town, and we both work again at the same hospital, but in different departments!

  119. This is still happening in 2018.
    This story is nearly exactly the same as mine.
    I’m passionate, dedicated, caring and out of work.
    Hopefully I can be Nursing someone back to health real soon as my new grad time is running out and I will find it impossible to reregister as an RN.

  120. So true Jo. I am a newly graduated RN, and I can’t believe the competition for jobs even in rural Queensland where I’m trying. Very disheartening.

  121. I just got the results for the NSW new graduate program and I was told that I have been placed on the eligibility applicants bank. I feel so disheartened. The hospital I have chosen I have worked there over one year and they took in many applicants who have not even been working there. I feel very sad and been lifeless the whole week. My parents keep nagging me about how I should have performed better in the interview. I regret choosing such a big hospital. I did not perform that well in the interview however it feels like my whole three years have been wasted. I don’t know if there is any hope left. I’m checking my phone everyday hoping to see any calls from hospitals. I was told that I will only get in if someone drops out. What if no one drops out? What can I do then? I will be jobless and working as an Assistant Nurse forever. I have been on Seek, Indeed looking for work and feeling so empty seeing my classmates happy and receiving offers.


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