There is no precise data on the numbers of nurses who leave after graduation. Many nurses go abroad for a period of time and return to Ireland at a later stage. Notwithstanding the need to reduce public service numbers the HSE has the capacity to recruit where it is necessary to do so in order to ensure patient safety and quality care and to support service delivery. Nursing posts continue to be filled on this basis. In addition, the Haddington Road Agreement provided for the recruitment of up to 1,000 Nurse Graduates on a 2 year programme. Nearly 500 nurses and midwives have commenced employment in recent months on the graduate scheme, with over 200 others currently going through the recruitment process.
Fourth year undergraduate student nurses undertake a 36 week rostered placement as a key part of their degree programme. When doing so, they are not qualified nurses and require supervision. Student undergraduate nurses participating in the 4th year rostered clinical placement are paid in accordance with the rates specified in the minimum wage legislation, €6.49 for the first 12 weeks, €6.92 for the second 12 weeks and €7.79 for the third 12 weeks, with mental health student nurses 2.3% higher. Nurses participating in the Nurse Graduate Initiative earn 85% of the starting pay of a Staff Nurse in the first year and 90% in the second year. In addition these nurses would also be in receipt of allowances and other premium payments. Under the Agreement any subsequent appointment following completion of the Initiative will be to the third point of the staff nurse scale. For the first time nationally in Ireland this programme offers graduates a unique opportunity to consolidate undergraduate learning experience in a structured and supportive environment while building on their competencies and providing the foundation for lifelong learning for the next stage of their career. This initiative will open doors for future education and their career development giving graduate staff nurses and midwives a significant advantage over graduates worldwide.