One of the many important roles the ANMF undertakes, as the national professional and industrial organisation for nurses and midwives in Australia, is monitoring and promoting employment opportunities for early career nurses and midwives (previously referred to as graduates).
It is an unacceptable situation for our colleagues who have just graduated, to not get a job. This has a demoralising and devastating effect on the nurses and midwives who are unable to find work. There is also a loss of public investment in the education of qualified nurses and midwives, and a loss of their contribution to the health system and the future nursing and midwifery workforce.
With the escalation of unemployment issues for early career nurses and midwives in 2014, the ANMF convened a national Graduate Nurse and Midwife Roundtable with key stakeholders to discuss and develop solutions to secure employment opportunities for these nurses and midwives.
The 2014 Roundtable was a successful event with over 30 leaders in nursing and midwifery and some federal politicians attending. All participants at the Roundtable agreed there was a significant problem of underemployment of newly graduating nurses and midwives, the causes of which are complex and varied.
A working group was then established with four main objectives – improving the data available, developing a document to debunk myths for early career nurses and midwives, identifying and undertaking required research, and lobbying government.
Over the last two years, with secretariat support of the ANMF, the group has met regularly to develop a number of key pieces of work. This includes a minimum data set that is required to make informed predictions and outcomes for future early career nurse and midwife employment.
The main dataset questions included:
- numbers of nursing and midwifery student commencements and completions per year;
- numbers of nurses and midwives registered from Australian education providers each year;
- the number of graduates employed in nursing and midwifery; and
- the number of graduate or transition places available.
Using the minimum data set as a framework, the ANMF worked closely with the Department of Education and Training, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to drill down on the current available data and develop the ANMF Graduate Data Set- Nurses and Midwives, February 2017.
This document outlines national and state and territory data from 2012 to 2015, allowing us to gain a more complete picture of early career nurse and midwife employment. The current limitations to the available data are also discussed within the document.
In December 2016, the working group held a second forum - a National Early Career Nurse and Midwife Roundtable. Leaders in the nursing and midwifery professions were invited to attend, along with many federal politicians. These stakeholders are vital to the development and implementation of ongoing solutions to enhance future employment for nurses and midwives and ultimately contributing to the viability of the health workforce.
The working group presented their achievements to date, including the developed data set, the draft myth busters document and an overview of the ANMFs lobbying on this issue.
A number of early career nurses and midwives who had just finished their program or recently completed a transition program presented their perspective throughout the day. They discussed their experiences, concerns and expectations.
Associate Professor Tracey Moroney from the University of Notre Dame at the time and who is now working at the University of Wollongong, presented her research on support and what it means for early career nurses. Lisa Collinson from the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association gave an overview of their transition to practice pilot in primary care. Michelle Gunn from the Australian College of Nurses spoke about the Queensland graduate recruitment project and lastly, Tony McGillion from the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services presented on the collaborative graduate programs which have been implemented in Victoria.
The afternoon session of the roundtable involved a lively panel discussion. The panel members were: Janine Mohamed from the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives; Professor Tracey Moroney, Liz Drew from Churches of Christ Care; and Tianna Camilleri from the Australian Student and Novice Nurses Association.
The participants provided many thought provoking questions for the panel. Some of the themes discussed included; support; graduate and transition programs; clinical experience during the undergraduate program; and the ongoing requirement to match employment positions with the number of student nurses and midwives graduating.
A number of next step-strategies were agreed for the working group to progress. These included:
- how to share information;
- understanding and learning across regions and sectors;
- continuing to identify and determine numbers and capacity of jobs; and
- what ‘work ready’ really means.
It is clear from both the roundtables that all participants agreed early career nurses and midwives need jobs and we are all responsible for making this happen.
Julianne Bryce, Elizabeth Foley and Julie Reeves
Federal Professional Officers