New SA Health initiative to open jobs for nursing graduates

Image Source: University of South Australia

By Leon Georgiou | @Leon_Georgiou

The State Government has introduced a new initiative aimed at creating opportunities for nursing graduates to enter the public health system.

The Registered Nurse and Midwife Renewal Program (also known as the Early Retirement Scheme 2019) will give nurses between the ages of 60 and 64 who have at least 10 years continuous service, the opportunity to retire early with a $50,000 payout.

It’s hoped that by offering early payouts, more graduate and junior nursing positions will be made available.

According to SA Health Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Jenny Hurley, “last year, more than 300 young… graduates were unable to secure jobs within the public system.”

This is due to the increasing disparity between the number of nurses graduating each year, and the availability of nursing positions.

The South Australian Public Health System runs a graduate program known as the Transition to Professional Practice Program (TPPP), with private hospitals offering an equivalent program.

Entry into the TPPP is a significant step towards securing employment within an Adelaide metropolitan hospital.

It offers graduates a year of professional support and on the job experience as they transition from university students into experienced professional nurses.

However, placement is highly competitive, and many don’t succeed.

Bradley Cousins graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing in 2016.

But like many nursing graduates, Mr Cousins was unable to secure a position in a nursing graduate program.

“At the time that I had graduated, there were not a lot of jobs, as many of the experienced and older nurses were still working,” he said.

“Pair that with a large number of graduates from the three different Adelaide universities, and it made finding a position pretty difficult.”

Mr Cousins spent the next eight months applying for roles interstate, before finally gaining employment in a nursing home.

This isn’t an uncommon occurrence, as many students without support from graduate programs are left with limited employment opportunities.

*Sarah Smith, an expert nurse educator at the Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN), said that it’s much more difficult for nurses who don’t go through the TPPP or similar graduate programs to find roles within hospitals.

Ms Smith also said graduates are severely disadvantaged when applying for roles in specialised areas such as Paediatrics, Intensive Care and the Emergency department.

“The Emergency Department at the Royal Adelaide Hospital definitely wouldn’t hire you unless you had completed the TPPP,” she said.

As a result, most are relegated to working in agencies, casual pools and aged care facilities, where they are less supported.

The first round of Early Retirement Scheme payments will be made on June 30th, offering a total of one hundred packages to eligible nurses.

This will open the same number of jobs for graduates and early career nurses, with a second round of applications opening in late October.

*Names of people and companies have been changed or omitted for privacy reasons.

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