Just over 78 per cent of nursing and midwifery internship students are considering emigrating once they graduate, according to a new survey conducted by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association (INMO), with the organisation critical of Irish services for not recruiting students earlier.
Of these respondents, of which the majority were 23-years old or younger according to the INMO, just over 70 per cent had been approached by overseas recruitment agencies before April 2017, with just under 30 per cent offered permanent or part-time contracts in Ireland. In a press statement, the IMNO said that this directly contradicts the HSE’s claim that “they are proactively offering permanent positions to all new graduates”, adding that this “reveals that the HSE is later than overseas recruiters in approaching Irish students”.
Currently just under 1,500 nursing and midwifery interns are completing a 36-week placement.
Of those who responded to the survey, 78.78 per cent said that they would consider staying in Ireland’s public health service for at least one year after qualifying if they were offered a guaranteed permanent contract.
According to the survey, the top-ranked incentive to keep graduates in Ireland’s public health service are an increase in pay, improvements to staffing levels and working conditions; and access to funded postgraduate education.
In a press statement, Liam Conway, INMO’s Student and New Graduate Office, stated the results “should be a wakeup call to the HSE”.
“They have a unique opportunity, which is not available to overseas recruiters, yet they continue each year to leave it too late to recruit, and then engage in a process which is not efficient or encouraging to graduating Irish nurses and midwives.”
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) expressed concerns at the survey’s findings. Daniel Waugh, USI’s Vice-President for Campaigns, stated: “The figure of 78% of student nurses considering emigrating is stark, but I’m also not surprised. USI commends the INMO for building on the wealth of evidence that now exists showing that our health system is in crisis and the solution is simple. Our student and graduates nurses and midwives do not want to emigrate but are forced to leave for a better life elsewhere.”
Student nurses and midwives in Ireland face considerable pressures as they study. USI conducted research in 2016 found that 93 per cent of student nurses and midwives were considering emigrating, with 73 per cent citing payment as the core reason. Until March 2016, after years of protests and lobbying, interns were paid below minimum wage, at €6.49 an hour.