Getting ready to apply to GradConnect

It is never too soon to start getting organised for your employment search. During this time you need to:

  • start a job hunt file
  • decide if you want to participate in a graduate program.

A good place to start is to compile a job hunt file that includes the certificates and information you will need throughout the next 6 to 12 months.

Your job hunt file should include:

  • birth certificate or passport (for proof of identity)
  • criminal record screening clearance
  • Working with Children clearance
  • immunisation record
  • transcript of academic standing
  • referee names and contact details (make sure you have your referees’ permission)
  • your portfolio of evidence
  • a resume.

Before you can begin to work as a nurse or midwife, including in a graduate program, you must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).

Find out when and how to get registered.

Once you are registered with the NMBA you are authorised to practice as a nurse or midwife anywhere in Australia.

Graduate programs

Many, but not all, nurses or midwives start their professional careers by undertaking a graduate program.

Graduate programs for enrolled nurses, registered nurses and midwives are formalised transition programs offered by employers for those in their first year of practice. Graduate programs are workplace-based programs designed to consolidate knowledge, skills and competence and transition graduates to practice as safe, confident and accountable professionals while being employed.

Graduate programs go beyond normal orientation and induction and offer graduates:

  • formal education time (including study days)
  • supernumerary time and clinical support including preceptorship, mentorship and coaching
  • supervised clinical education.

Graduate programs may include opportunities for rotations - for example you may work in 1, 2 or 3 areas of the organisation. This will depend on how the organisation has structured the graduate program. No one single way is better than the other.

Find out what individual GradConnect hospitals are offering in their graduate programs for:

Graduate programs are not mandatory

Graduate programs are not mandatory however they do offer new graduates structure and support in their first year of practice. They may not suit everybody and some people may not get an opportunity to enter a graduate program.

An example of people not wanting to undertake a graduate program could be:

You’re an enrolled nurse making the transition to become a registered nurse. You may already be well acquainted with professional practice, although in a different role and at a different level. Your current or potential employer may be happy to appoint you to a registered nurse role without doing a full graduate program. This may be up to you, but sometimes it may be up to your employer. Some employers prefer people to undertake graduate programs in order to thoroughly change their role and practice, as well as how they see themselves (and how others see them) within their team.

Finding the right graduate program for you

As soon as you are registered as a nurse or midwife, you are licensed to work in those respective professions and will be accountable for your care and actions. However, in your first year of employment, you need a supportive environment to help you make that transition from student to professional in a planned, coordinated way.

Graduate programs offer a range of experiences and opportunities. Some give graduates a single ward where they can consolidate their skills and professional integration with a stable team over the full 12 months. Others offer rotations to different areas that allow you to experience different things. No one program is perfect for everyone.

The size of the organisation and number of rotations is not a guarantee that a program is suited to you. Some people prefer smaller organisations and need more time to settle in and become confident.

Many nurses and midwives believe that the most important aspect of your graduate year is to work in a clinical area that offers good support. This support may include:

  • access to debriefing sessions
  • supernumerary time
  • buddying with more experienced staff
  • access to ongoing education.

Your first year is about consolidation and learning to be a professional; it's not another student clinical placement. It is important that you are in a team where you feel like you are practising safely and know where to go when unsure and ask questions.

Before choosing your graduate program, do some research to find out what is on offer and think about what you personally need in a workplace. Remember, highly challenging and busy clinical environments don’t suit everybody.

You can research graduate program by attending the nursing and health expos organised by the Australian College of Nursing. These are held on different dates for each state.

Visit the College’s website (external site) for further information.

A graduate year is about:

  • consolidation and learning to be a professional
  • being accountable for your actions and practice
  • being part of health team.

It’s not another clinical placement as a student - so look for a graduate program that will offer you a supportive work environment.

How to access graduate programs in Western Australia

There are 2 ways to find a graduate program in Western Australia:

  • GradConnect is an online application service that all public health services (WA Health) and participating private hospitals use for their graduate recruitment. It means only applying once to be considered for all of these hospitals and health services
  • Contact hospitals and health services not participating in GradConnect. Just because they do not participate in GradConnect doesn’t mean they don’t offer a graduate program.

Using GradConnect

The first step in being employed in a graduate program within WA Health or a participating private hospital is to find out more about GradConnect, including:

  • a full list of participating hospitals and health services (with links to their brochures and contact details)
  • program rules
  • application user guides.

Make sure you read this information carefully.

Please be aware that:

  • You are not guaranteed employment just by applying via GradConnect. It's a job application, so is competitive, with more candidates than places, particularly for the more popular programs or employers.
  • To give yourself the best chance of success, take a proactive and professional approach. This means taking the time and effort to make your application high quality so that it stands out from the crowd. Think of it as the assignment you need to get an ’A’ for and not just pass.
  • GradConnect provides you with the opportunity to list your top 5 preferences. To give yourself the best opportunity to have your application assessed you need to select 5 different sites. Don't put all your eggs in one basket! The hospital or health service you choose may have many great applicants, but not enough jobs to offer everyone a place.

Postponing your graduate year

In the past, some nursing or midwifery graduates who were unsuccessful in gaining employment into a graduate program have considered waiting until the next year for a better offer. You should think seriously before postponing your graduate year.

If you defer your graduate program, potential employers may be concerned about the long gap between completing your course and commencing your program. You will also be competing against a new group of graduates for a limited number of positions.

If you decide not to go into a graduate program, or decline an offer made to you by GradConnect, you need to focus on getting a nursing or midwifery job somewhere within the first 6 months of graduating.

Remember, your first year of employment is a time to consolidate your skills and education and to understand how to practice consistently at the level expected of a health professional. The setting you work in is not the most important aspect of this year.

Nursing and midwifery are practice-based professions, so it’s really important that you consolidate your undergraduate learning through regular employment in the first year of being registered.

More information

Find out more about nursing and midwifery graduate programs in WA or find us on Facebook (external site).

Produced by

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Office