Sunday the 8th July 2014
Volume 320

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Recently there have been calls to put a cap on the intake of Nursing students due to the lack of career options once they graduate, Immigration News brings to you the story from the point of view of international students.  

Are International Students studying Nursing being shortchanged?  nurses.jpg

Most students think that getting into a health related discipline is a sure way to have a job upon graduation and the fact that Australia is facing a shortage of nurses is common knowledge.

Unfortunately it appears as though Australia has a severe shortage of experienced nurses. There are plenty of fresh graduates from university, but not enough positions for them, because experienced nurses are not available to facilitate them.

The federal government in 2009 removed caps on the intake of students into health related disciplines allowing universities to enroll as many students as they wanted. Since then there has been a 25 per cent increase in the number of students enrolling in health-related disciplines.

According to an Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation government submission, published this April, in 2014 an estimated 15% of all nursing and midwifery graduates Australia-wide will be left unemployed.

Graduate Placements are where fresh graduates work along-side and learn from their more experienced colleagues. With the shortage of experienced nurses to mentor them the Graduate Placement spots are few and the nurses vying for these spots are many.

The problem for international students is that preference is given to local students who are permanent residents or citizens for selection into a Graduate Program.

Getting these placements is one of the most important things for fresh graduates; IMMIGRATIONews spoke to few international nursing graduates for their take on the situation.

Kiran a nursing graduate from India explains that the real struggle for a Registered Nurse (RN) post studies is to get Graduate Placement.

She says "This one year (after graduation) is very costly for nursing career. There are no other place for RN's to do jobs apart from Graduate Program. If there is one it is very long journey to get a suitable position."

According to the students we spoke to the number of nursing graduates far out number the number of Graduate Placement spots and the Graduate Placements are not based on merit but depend on one's visa status.

"The first preference is for Australian citizens then Permanent Residents and then nurses with overseas experience and then Australian nursing graduates." say Niraj, another international nursing graduate.

One registered nurse from Korea told us how she was lucky to get into a Graduate Program at a private nursing hospital because she had been working for while as an AIN during her course. Her friends she studied with however were no so lucky and not one of them got into a Graduate Program after the bachelor of Nursing.

The consensus seems to be that no matter how well one does in their course as well as CPAs (Clinical Practice Assessments) the graduate positions are given as per one's visa status.

Post her studies Kiran says" I was very excited and feeling secure, but all dreams were scattered when they said they are obliged to hire only Permanent Residents."

Most nursing students are advised that they should apply to agencies but Kiran says "
The new requirements is that an agency can only hire an applicant who has at least one year's experience working as RN or students who have more than a year's approved overseas experience as an RN."

When asked how hard it was to find a paid nursing position after her graduation she explained "It was almost impossible to get permanent full-time or part-time or temporary full-time jobs. The only way to start one's career is via casual jobs, where uncertainty is part of life."  

She goes on to say "Casual jobs are risky because you are not trained enough for safe practice which also invites lots of complications for patients, employers and employee itself such as errors in medications or incomplete knowledge of protocols because as casual you will get different wards, different patients all the time and on top of that you have never worked as RN before. Thus, fear is everywhere if you don't get this placement which provides you enough experience to work independently."

Michael Spence, vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney was recently quoted by the Australian "I've always said if the government is looking for savings in the higher education system then withdrawing from the health disciplines from the demand-driven system makes a lot of sense"

Niraj says "I can understand that the demand for experienced nurses is higher than fresh graduates however why are the Graduate Placements closed to students who perform great during their courses? Shouldn't it be merit based rather than visa status based? I mean at the end of the day any patient wants to be attended by a nurse who genuinely wants to help people and has the best skills along with qualifications. Why should my PR status or the lack of it determine if I can be placed in a Graduate Program?"

A good question. Why indeed? 

Interview: Tanaya Das            

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It not hard to imagine the frustration of international students who graduate from Bachelor of Nursing Degrees only to find that the system cannot cope with the numbers that come out.

Most of the public is not aware that without  fresh graduates completing these Graduate Programs the they are nearly unemployable.

International students doing these bachelor degrees and completing at the end of this year are now becoming aware of the problem. Many are now turning to regional hospitals to try and secure a position in any such programs but very soon that too may be very difficult to find.

International students are paying around 70K for these degrees. UTS charges $71,220 for theirs.

That is a lot of money.

One has to question the ethics of institutions taking such large sums from students when they are fully aware, even when they begin their enrollment, that getting a job upon graduation will be difficult due to the shortage in Graduate Programs.

This unbalanced approach must be rectified. Disgruntled overseas visitors who pay such large sums of money cannot be good for business.

And don't be fooled, this is all about money and business.

Nothing wrong with that but lets operate with a high level of customer service.



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