Academic journal article Nursing Praxis in New Zealand

The Graduate Nursing Workforce: Does an International Perspective Have Relevance for New Zealand?

Academic journal article Nursing Praxis in New Zealand

The Graduate Nursing Workforce: Does an International Perspective Have Relevance for New Zealand?

Article excerpt


In recent years there has been a return to nursing workforce planning both nationally and internationally (Buchan & Caiman, 2004; Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ), 2009; International Council of Nurses (ICN), 2008; Ministry of Health (MOH), 2005, 2006a, 2006b, 2009; Oulton, 2006). This development reflects two key issues. Firstly, although nursing numbers are the largest in the health workforce future nursing shortages are anticipated as the population ages (Buchan & Caiman, 2004; ICN, 2008; MOH, 2009; Segal & Bolton, 2009). Secondly, there is increasing recognition that nurses have the potential to be the key health professional in the implementation of health strategies for the 21st century with its double demand to promote health and manage chronic illness (Buchan & Caiman, 2004). Together these issues point to the need for governmental support for workforce development to ensure there are sufficient qualified nurses to realise this potential.

Graduate retention has been identified as a key factor in reducing nursing shortages in the future, with these shortages predicted to peak in 2020 (Buchan & Caiman, 2004; Doiron, Hall & Jones, 2008; Drury, Francis, & Chapman, 2008; ICN, 2008). The drive to retain nursing graduates has been accompanied by a plethora of literature examining graduate transition to practice, includingturnover intent and recruitment and retention strategies, from an employer perspective. These studies have usually focussed on retention in the first year following graduation (Gaynor, Gallaseli, Yorkston, Stewart, & Turner, 2006; Rydon, Rolleston, & Mackie, 2008; Salt, Cummings, & Profetto-McGrath, 2008).

In New Zealand the number of nurses graduating annually has been readily calculable through the registration database of the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ, 2008). Their employment intent has been estimated by the Nurse Educators in the Tertiary Sector (NETS, 2009) (Table 1). However, monitoring graduate retention and recruitment has been less straightforward, with graduate attrition being identified as an issue (MOH, 2009; North et al., 2006). The recently established Clinical Agency Training Board (MOH, 2009) is now tracking numbers of graduates, but this is limited to those graduates recruited and retained in District Health Boards New Zealand (DHBNZ) within the Nurse Entry to Practice (NetP), and its expansion programme into the wider health care sector, over the first twelve months of graduate practice (DHBNZ, 2005; MOH, 2005,2010).

Given the recognition that workforce planning requires longitudinal data (HWNZ, 2009; ICN, 2004; Segal & Bolton, 2009) and that in New Zealandthere isa "historical dearth of information about nursing workforce" (HWNZ, 2009, p. 54) this paper reviewed international studies focussing on cohorts of nursing graduates - local, regional or national populations - which are not limited to an employing organisation and which show actual turnover for periods of more than twelve months. This longer term international perspective complements the New Zealand workforce data and enables workforce strategies to be developed which will ensure graduates are retained to implement future health strategy.

Sourcing the Literature

To locate relevant research from the published nursing literature (peer reviewed and English speaking) the computerised database of the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) was searched. Distinguishing actual turnover from turnover intent and estimating turnover rates is accepted as problematic (Hayes et al., 2005). Therefore the following keywords were included to define the search: 'nursing graduates' plus 'retention'; 'workforce'; 'recruitment', with synonyms and phrases being used as appropriate and incorporating Boolean phrases (for example the term retention was used and combined with attrition, intent to leave, intent to stay, turnover; and the word graduates was combined with new and under graduates). …

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