Published online 09 November 2012.
Securing employment after qualification is of utmost importance to newly qualified nurses to consolidate knowledge and skills. The factors that influence success in gaining this first post are not known.
The study aimed to describe the first post gained after qualification in terms of setting, nature of employment contract and geographical distribution and explore the relationship between a range of factors (including ethnicity) and employment at the point of qualification.
An exploratory study using structured questionnaires and secondary analysis of data routinely collected by the universities about students and their progress during their course.
The study was conducted in eight universities within a large, multicultural city in the UK as part of the ‘Readiness for Work’ research programme.
Eight hundred and four newly qualified nurses who had successfully completed a diploma or degree from one of the universities; a response rate of 77% representing 49% of all graduating students in the study population.
Data were collected by self-completed semi-structured questionnaires administered to students at the time of qualification and at three months post-qualification. Routinely collected data from the universities were also collected.
Fifty two percent of participants had been offered a job at the point of qualification (85% of those who had applied and been interviewed). Of these, 99% had been offered a nursing post, 88% in the city studied, 67% in the healthcare setting where they had completed a course placement. 44% felt “confident” and 32% “very confident” about their employment prospects. Predictors of employment success included ethnicity, specialty of nursing and university attended. Predictors of confidence and preparedness for job seeking included ethnicity, nursing specialty, gender and grade of degree. Newly qualified nurses from non-White/British ethnic groups were less likely to get a job and feel confident about and prepared for job seeking.
This study has demonstrated that ethnicity does lead to employment disadvantage for newly qualified nurses. This is an important contribution towards recognizing and describing the evidence so that appropriate responses and interventions can be developed. It is important that universities and healthcare institutions work closely together to support students at this important time in their nursing career.