Student nurses struggling to make ends meet have low expectations about their future career prospects and earning power, a national survey has found. Nearly half of trainee nurses earn less than Pounds 5,000 a year and most have debts of more than Pounds 1,000 when they qualify.
But the prospects for paying off loans and making quick progress up the career ladder are seen as bleak by the majority of final-year nursing students, says the Institute for Employment Studies.
A survey of 2,000 students on nurse training courses, and information gathered through a questionnaire issued to 100 nursing schools and colleges last year, found that only one in six were expecting to gain a permanent National Health Service contract when they qualified, despite reported shortages and a record low in nursing unemployment.
The IES report, commissioned by the Royal College of Nursing, says 86 per cent of student nurses surveyed expected to have difficulties in finding their first job, and nearly two-thirds of tutors in schools of nursing and midwifery rated their students' employment prospects as "difficult" or "very difficult".
Changes in nursing education and the NHS labour market brought about by Government reforms of the service have led to internal perceptions of an over-supply of nurses and a sharp reduction in the number of places on courses, the report says. Research has shown that over 40 per cent of NHS nurses are in temporary or supply posts.
Nursing: The Next Generation, available from BEBC Ltd, PO Box 1496, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset, price Pounds 25.