Journal of Professional Nursing

Factors that influence new graduates' preferences for specialty areas

Jill Wilkinson, RN, PhD, Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing, Massey University, Wellington, NZ
Stephen Neville, RN, PhD, Associate Professor & Head of Department (Nursing), Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, NZ
Annette Huntington, RN, PhD, Professor & Head of School of Nursing, Massey University, Wellington, NZ
Paul Watson, RN, PhD, Principal advisor - Nursing, Office of the Chief Nurse, Ministry of Health, Wellington, NZ

Reference:  Wilkinson, J., Neville, S., Huntington, A., & Watson, Pl (2016).  Factors that influence new graduates' preferences for specialty areas. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 32(1), 8-19. 


In 2012 all District Health Boards in New Zealand participated in a national pilot of the Advanced Choice of Employment system to recruit graduating and newly graduated registered nurses into two supported first year of practice programmes, namely the 'Nurse Entry to Practice' and 'Nurse Entry to Specialty (mental health) programmes.  The system requires applicants to choose in order of preference up to four District Health Boards and three clinical areas where they would like to work.  This paper reports a survey of nurses who had registered with the Nursing Council of New Zealand in 2012 and explored factors that influenced their preference for three government priority specialty areas:  primary health care, mental health and aged-related residential care.  A self-reported survey and a non-probability sample of new graduate nurses was used.  The response rate was 34% (n=287),  Data were abakysed descriptively.  The results indicate that new graduate nurses prefer to work in surgical or medical areas to consolidate their technical skills.  These experiences are thought to provide a good foundation for future career development.  Clinical placement experiences have an important influence on choice of practice setting.  Preference for an area is linked to positive experiences as a student.  The government priority areas were seen as complex areas and a new graduate needs appropriate support to work there.  Supported first year of practice programmes are more available in hospital settings than primary care ot aged care and therefore influence where nurses choose to work.  Finally, nurses who are educated for the profession are disinclined to fill workforce gaps, but desperation for a job often drives them into areas where they have little interest.

New graduate nurse; baccalaureate nurse; career choice; first year of practice; survey

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