Written by Betty Holland, UTS Bachelor of Midwifery graduate
Is the final year of your nursing or midwifery degree suddenly upon you? Firstly, congratulations! It is no small feat to have made it this far through a challenging (but very rewarding) uni course!
But where to next?
For many, the next step will be a new graduate position at a hospital.
For anyone unaware, a new graduate job, or “new grad” year consists of a year of employment where nursing or midwifery graduates step up to the role of nurse or midwife but have additional support and educational opportunities while they do so. It’s called a “transition to professional practice year (TPP)” within NSW Health. It’s a significant and valuable year, one that is filled with opportunity. However, the pathway there is long and confronting!
NSW Health releases information around the end of March which includes a handbook about the process of applying for a TPP position within NSW Health. It is really important that you go through this handbook so that you clearly understand the process.
It is also important to take note of all the important dates! I went through the handbook and put the following into my phone calendar and paper diary:
- the day applications opened
- the day interview offers were released
- the day job offers were released
- the cut-offs for submitting, responding or accepting each of these.
The truth is that if you make a silly mistake and forget to submit an application, you will be out of the running, and all for nothing!
- For resume advice, the UTS Careers team are super helpful and keen to review your resume and give you some tips and tricks, all for free!
- One piece of advice I have is that having an assistant in nursing or assistant in midwifery job always strengthens a resume. You can get these either after one or two years of study depending on the hospital.
Where to apply?
- My experience has only been applying through NSW Health to public hospitals. However, there are also new graduate programs run in private hospitals and even overseas; New Zealand in particular is very keen to have Australian grads, and they run programs and offer incentives so that grads make the move across the ditch! Do some research and ask around about the application processes for these options.
- For NSW Health, you can list eight preferences. For some, these will be specific hospitals and for others, these will be Local Health Districts. There are also options for metropolitan and rural programs to give you a taste of both worlds.
- Just be aware: you could be offered a position at any place you put down – so if you wouldn’t actually move there or want to work there, don’t put it on your list.
- Final year students can also meet with potential future employers at the UTS Nursing and Midwifery Careers Fair (internal CareerHub link for current students only) each May, so keep an eye out for this and register!
How does it work?
- You will submit your application online, through a NSW Health portal. On this portal, you must submit your selection criteria, preferences, resume and referees.
- From this point, you will interview at your first preference hospital. If they want to offer you a job, they will do so on the position offer day in October! And if not, they will give you a grade based on your interview that other hospitals can look at and use to offer you a position with them.
- Honestly, this process is quite confusing and nobody really knows exactly how it works. There tends to be quite a long wait between interviewing and the position offer day, which is quite nerve-wracking! But it is comforting to know that all your nursing and midwifery pals are in it together.
The Selection Criteria
- The Handbook will outline the selection criteria for that year’s intake but in general, there are six questions that must be absolutely no longer than 150 words per question.
- Edit these on a Word document and then copy and paste them into the portal when you’re happy with them.
- What employers want to see in these answers are clear examples of you exhibiting necessary skills.
- For example, if the question is about communication skills, don’t just discuss the importance of communication in healthcare or different types of communication, but give an example of a time that you have exhibited excellent communication skills in a clinical setting.
- NSW Health requests two referees: one a supervisor from a clinical position (e.g. your clinical educator, facilitator) and one current or recently past employer (e.g. nursing unit manager for an AIN/M job, or boss of your part-time job) or another clinical supervisor.
- Make sure you ask permission to put these people down as your referees – you don’t want them to be too surprised to say good things about you when they are called.
Interviews tend to either be panel-based (3-4 interviewers and yourself) or “café style” which involves a room with five stations set up, two interviews per station and you move around the room, a new station for each question.
- To get used to verbalising your answers well, do practice interviews with your university peers in a low-stress setting, and take up a mock interview.
- Know your CORE values. The CORE values are a NSW Health framework for clinical practice, and if you know them well and tie them into each of your answers, you will blow the socks off your interviewers.
- Similarly to the selection criteria, don’t waffle on about the theory behind your answer. What interviewers want to hear are real life examples from your clinical experiences that prove you to be a confident, capable and compassionate health practitioner.
- Remember to take a deep breath, and have a sip of water if you need it.
- Non-verbal communication is also very important. Sit upright in your chair with your hands together, don’t fiddle with your hair or hands and try to look well put-together – even if you don’t feel it. As I always like to say, “fake it ’til you make it”. You will feel very nervous on the day and you mightn’t feel confident at all, but if you tell yourself you are confident and enter the interview with a huge smile on your face, you will feel and appear much more confident.
Watch some of the video resources provided to you by the uni:
On job offer day:
This day will be a very stressful day among your nursing and midwifery peers, and while some of you may be very relieved and excited, many will also be disheartened and disappointed. Therefore, it is important to do everything in a loving way, to ensure nobody is hurt by the actions of those around them on this day. YES, your friends will be excited for you if you get a great new grad job, but just be considerate that they may be very disappointed in theirs.
Related: If you are concerned about not receiving a new grad position, see an earlier blog post: ‘What to do if your new grad plans don’t work out’