Nurse entry to practice programmes (NetPs) are needed for nursing graduates who require work experience as registered nurses, the academic leader of UCOL's Nurse Education Team says.
While nursing students are given 1500 hours of work experience during their three years of study at UCOL, many workplaces require them to have further experience once their degree is completed, Carol Stewart said.
"The difference is that they are working as an autonomous practitioner," Ms Stewart said.
Before they were registered, student nurses always working under the direct supervision of a registered nurse. Once they completed the degree they needed to be able to work unsupervised, however there were some positions where employers would not want a newly registered nurse working without support, she said.
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"Netp was brought in to help support registered nurses in their first year of practice. They're put into a mentoring system so that you're supported to grow into the knowledge of that area you're working in," Ms Stewart said.
A petition by the New Zealand Nursing Organisation (NZNO) for the government to fund NetPs for all nursing graduates has gained more than 8000 signatures.
However, Ms Stewart said certain areas, such as aged care of particular medical practices, did not require nursing graduates to do the NetP programme.
"The argument is that they want to have more placements available - which none of us would argue with. We have to be reminded that it's only one option. There are other jobs available that may not necessarily have a nurse entry to practice programme.
"Aged care needs excellence. It needs really good, quality registered nurses, which our graduates are."
Ms Stewart agreed with Whanganui District Health Board's director of nursing Sandy Blake's comments that Wanganui did not have a nursing shortage, but said "anything we do to encourage or increase the opportunities for our graduates to find employment is something that we very much support."