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Record numbers of new nurses and midwives for South Canterbury – Health New Zealand

One-on-one coaching, accommodation support and a wider range of job choices for new graduates has seen South Canterbury record its largest ever annual intake of new nurses and midwives.

Yearly intakes over the past 17 years have ranged from 7 to 21 new graduates and this year the region has opened up more roles than usual, employing 34 nurse graduates. Timaru Hospital has also welcomed three graduate midwives to its maternity service, the first intake in a number of years.

Anna Wheeler, Health New Zealand/Te Whatu Ora Interim Director Nursing and Midwifery for South Canterbury, says the decision to have such a large cohort this year is part of the effort to address workforce shortages and support the talent pipeline.

“It takes everybody across the system from rural health, primary and secondary care to provide local placements,” she says

“A lot of work has gone into challenging the status quo over recent years, opening up graduate positions in specialities such as emergency, paediatrics and intensive care where traditionally graduate positions have not been available.”

With graduates now working in a range of areas, there is a need to provide more professional support. Experienced clinical coaches, like midwife Kelly Allan, are sharing their expertise with their junior peers.

“The grads get one-on-one support for up to six weeks and for that time I shadow them in their work offering help where they need it, which alleviates someone else on the ward having to offer that support and ensures our patients continue to receive the best care,” she says.

Support to relocate to South Canterbury has also become an important part of the offering to attract talent, with local accommodation providers offering their available properties to new graduates for rent first, before taking them to market.

New nursing graduate Abby Taylor has a graduate position in endoscopy and loves the supportive team she works in.

“I feel like no question is a silly question and I enjoy the study days offered here to help build on what I already know,” she says.

Anna Wheeler says the surge in graduates has been supported by senior clinicians who have been undergoing additional preceptor training and taken on roles as mentors for their new colleagues.