Oral Presentation The 26th International Nursing Philosophy Conference 2023

Critical reflections on the new graduate nursing experience: Troubling the New Grad identity in 21st Century nursing (#49)

Zoe Sitas 1 , Molly Cullen 1
  1. School of nursing and midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

In 2022, over 2800 new nurses and midwives joined the public sector in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, where newly graduated nurses (New Grads) are hired on temporary contracts and enrolled in hospital-governed training programs.

Despite the support offered in these training programs, early career nurses are leaving the workforce for reasons largely unexplored in the literature. In the Australian context, one in five nurses reported they wished to leave their role within a year, according to Mckinsey & Company (2021), which is concerning amidst a predicted shortage of over 100,000 nurses by 2030 (Health Workforce Australia, 2014).

Through dialogue and documentation of critical reflections on our recent experiences as New Grads in both the public and private sector in NSW, we offer unique insights into the benefits and shortfalls of the new graduate program. We question the ways in which the New Grad identity is constructed and maintained, and whether it is beneficial for sustainable, imaginative ecosystems change in 21st Century nursing.

Our reflections thus far have revealed how New Grads are perceived as unknowledgeable, malleable, and disposable additions to the nursing workforce. A Foucauldian analysis was used to highlight relations of power embedded in how the New Grad identity is established and maintained; representing and reifying a harmful ‘status quo’ in nursing, with potential effects on patient safety.

This paper seeks to understand how the New Grad identity is experienced in Australia and offers a deeper understanding of factors contributing to early career nursing attrition. Although this paper speaks to the Australian context, there is significant global transferability in the identity of the New Grad and provides a deeper understanding of nursing identity in the 21st Century.