Job opportunities for nursing graduates in Hawke's Bay are looking healthy, thanks to initiatives at both local and national level.

According to EIT faculty of science dean Susan Jacobs, a survey conducted last week showed one third of students who completed their studies at the EIT and Tairawhiti campuses last month had been promised jobs before they were even registered.

"Give it three months and that figure could be more like 75 per cent," she said. "They are not all working for the District Health Board, some are working with intellectual disability or caring for older people.

"If I go back to the class that finished in November 2012, by March, 78 per cent had jobs."


A new Ministry of Health (MOH) accelerated choice of employment (ACE) project, that helped to identify which DHBs were not making full use of funding for new graduates, was creating more access to jobs.

"MOH funds a set number of places for new graduates at each DHB, prior to last year because that's when they implemented this for the first time, there were lots of places unfilled in some areas - the ACE programme makes sure no places go unfilled."

Ms Jacobs added employment for nurses fluctuated, but there was likely to be a greater need in the next few years as baby boomers went into retirement. While many nursing staff chose to hold on to their jobs for longer in an unsteady economic climate, the Hawke's Bay district Heath Board realised there was still a need to have openings available for newly qualified nurses.

"Graduate spaces have not been reduced, but to maintain the programme new initiatives had to be introduced because of the greater retention of nursing staff," HBDHB director of nursing Chris McKenna said.

In 2010, fixed term contracts were introduced, the following year two intakes of graduates increased the volume of new nurses, and by last year the number of graduates had jumped from 20 (in 2010) to 30.

"It is predicted that this year there will be 36 graduates employed through the Nursing Entry to Practice programme," Ms McKenna said.

There have been other initiatives to increase volumes of graduates within the DHB such as in public health nursing, district nursing and outpatient nursing.

Last year new placements were also introduced for the special care baby unit at Hawke's Bay Hospital.

Two programmes allowed new graduates to enter the DHB - the Nursing Entry to Practice programme and Nursing Entry to Speciality Programme - which is specifically designed for those looking to work in mental health for the first time.

All nursing graduates employed via the DHB must go through recruitment centre process. The shortlisting preference to local graduates or to those with links to the Bay.