New grads must sink or swim
The plight of new graduate nurses “thrown in at the deep end” with insufficient training and mentoring was a key talking point during the June Special General Meeting.
Melissa Mansell, president of the NSWNMA’s Liverpool Hospital branch, told the June Special General Meeting that the hospital was losing many highly skilled and experienced senior nurses.
“We do get a lot of a new grads but they’re not getting proper training,” she pointed out.
“It’s good to have a lot of new grads but if they don’t know what they’re doing, it is going to be more unsafe.”
She said graduate nurses on first rotation were being sent to Liverpool’s trauma centre.
“They’re getting culture shock and some have had panic attacks.
“I feel so sorry for them and I want to help them but I don’t have time to teach them.”
Melissa asked whether the government had agreed to any of the union’s claims regarding education and training.
NSWNMA Director, Strategy and Transformation, Michael Whaites, replied that the government had rejected the union’s entire ratios claim, including more CNEs.
Michael said the only improvement in training offered by the government was included in its incentive scheme for regional and remote workers.
“Part of that package can be converted into access to training and education, so there is some acknowledgement there, but clearly not enough,” he said.
Rhonda-Lea Klenk from Coffs Harbour Health Campus said student nurses were dropping out of university at a “massive” rate.
“We have 200 students who apply in first year to be a nurse or midwife and by the time graduation rolls around you’re lucky if you get six to eight midwives graduated,” she said.
“Within four hours of the teachers’ union striking, the government announced incentives for students with a university entrance rank of 80 or above, but there has been nothing for nursing or midwifery.
“A large number of baby boomers are retiring – where are we going to get the training for people to fill these positions?”
Michael Whaites agreed that “people are starting to drop out of the course when they see what it is they are coming into.”
He said the union was building stronger ties with the Australian College of Midwives, to work together to have the federal government create more training opportunities for undergraduate nurses and undergraduate midwives.
“We also want to draw your attention to the fact that in the state government’s draft policy on regional, rural and remote incentives for recruitment and retention, allied health workers get HECS-free payments but nurses and midwives do not.”
Kay Burns, branch secretary at Westmead Children’s Hospital said that under work health and safety legislation the government has an obligation to ensure a safe workplace.
“However, they have failed to do that on several fronts, such as not providing education and learning opportunities for new staff, and not providing breaks,” she said.
“They (the ministry) fail in their obligation under the Work Health and Safety Act by refusing to identify vacancy rates and making us work under the conditions that we do.”