Jessica injects urgency into campaign

Fedila Reshid and Jessica Tully are part of a campaign for more graduate program placements to be available for nursing students.
Fedila Reshid and Jessica Tully are part of a campaign for more graduate program placements to be available for nursing students.

The campaign started as a Facebook group called Give Grad Nurses A Chance and within four hours, over 500 people had joined.

Now with over 2100 members, the campaign has had much coverage in Australia and even overseas.

‘Hundreds of freshly graduated nurses are missing out on grad programs, resulting in unemployment due to not enough places,’ Ms Tully said.

The 21-year-old Sinagra resident has been campaigning for more graduate placements since before she finished her Bachelor of Science Nursing at ECU last year.

She had over 80 people rallying at Parliament House in November and held a meeting in December with Opposition health spokesman Roger Cook.

‘Since then, I’ve noticed more (positions) being advertised but mainly in the field of mental health,’ Ms Tully said.

‘A lot of the individuals who participated in the campaign have been successful in receiving positions in a mental health field ” none however wanted a career in mental health, as it’s a completely different side of nursing.’

A graduate position is a one-year placement where nurses gain experience in the profession to help in the transition to the workforce,

‘During all our training (while studying) in the hospital setting, we have a supervisor with us at all times,’ Ms Tully said.

‘Now that we are graduated, we still need that guidance until we feel confident to be by ourselves.

‘It’s unsafe to throw a new graduate straight into a patient load with no guidance ” we need that transition from student nurse to registered nurse and that’s why the grad program is so important for us.’

She said most health care facilities only employed nurses from graduate programs and those employed outside of the program still needed one or two years of postgraduate experience.

‘In addition, one year after completing their course, students are no longer eligible for graduate programs, so obtaining a graduate placement is nearly impossible for a substantial number of new nurses,’ she said. Ms Tully said she hoped her campaign would give more attention to graduate nurses.

‘They need to be aware of how many students they take on as they need to be aware of the amount graduating,’ she said.

According to the Department of Health’s Nursing Hours per Patient Day Annual Report for July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, there were 34 public and private hospitals and health services in WA using Graduate Connect to recruit for 2013.

The document stated WA health received 1399 applications and were offering 703 positions.

It stated it was expected another 155 positions would be offered in round two.

State opposition health spokesman Roger Cook said the State Government had responded to the Give Grad Nurses A Chance campaign by making more positions available.

‘But there are still many more that haven’t found a position yet ” Jessica Tully has estimated over 400, which is an awful lot of nursing graduates that the system is missing out on,’ he said.

‘Health Workforce Australia estimates that by 2025, Australia will be 109,000 nurses short across the nation ” we don’t want to see obstacles put in the way of anyone taking up a career in nursing.

‘WA Labor is looking to put together a policy because it’s important to continue to attract and retain the best and brightest people to the nursing workforce.’

Health Minister Kim Hames declined to comment.

The Department of Health’s Nursing Hours per Patient Day Annual Report for July 1, 2011 to June 30, 3012 stated financial support would be provided to public hospitals for the transition of graduate nurses and midwives into the work force, with $1500 per registered nurse and midwife and $750 per enrolled nurse graduate.

It also stated that in 2011-12 a $400,000 nursing and midwifery recruitment campaign was run to support a State Government target to employ 800 additional full time equivalent (FTE) nurses and midwives before the end of 2012.

The campaign was to address the Workforce Branch’s indication that by 2014-2015, WA Health would need to employ 13,361 FTE nurses and midwives to meet demand ” an increase of 1700 FTE.

It also said $2,857,235 had been allocated to scholarships in 2012, $1,107,000 of which went to 455 enrolled and registered nurse undergraduate scholarships.

‘Why give out scholarships to study nursing when you can’t get a position at the end of it?’ Ms Tully said.

After studying for four years, she said she was constantly upset about not having a graduate placement.

‘It’s on my mind every single day and brings down my confidence ” it’s emotionally and physically draining constantly applying for jobs and not receiving a call.’

Currently a casual pharmacy assistant, she said she would continue to apply for a graduate placement when applications open again in March and June.