New graduate nursing unemployment: A threat to the future health care workforce

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Journal Article
Contemporary Nurse, 2013, 44 (2), pp. 130 - 132
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Few would argue against the essential need for a strong, responsive and well educated health workforce. Yet providing it continues to cause challenges, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website makes the point that though the health workforce `has been growing at a faster rate than the population, patient demand for health services has been increasing at an even faster rate.1 The nursing shortage is by no means a new phenomenon nationally and internationally, with strategies to improve recruitment and retention rates having thus far only limited success. One such government strategy has been the provision of additional funding for universities to increase enrolments into their undergraduate nursing courses. In fact in 2010, new enrolments in Australian undergraduate nursing programmes increased by 9.2% (Nursing Review, 2011). Despite this tactic resulting in increased numbers of new graduates eligible to practice as nurses, as a strategy, it may not address the on-going challenge of providing the Australian community with a skilled nursing workforce due to a decrease in positions offered to graduate nurses by both public and private hospitals. This mismatch between the number of positions offered in new graduate programmes and the number of nurses graduating from university has led to the unemployment of a substantial amount of nursing graduates.
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