Friday, January 18, 2008

The art of application

I had a very depressing day on Wednesday, shortlisting applicants for 2 staff nurse posts. Normally we get just a handful of applications, Dermatology being a bit of an unknown quantity to many nurses and outpatients being viewed as a backwater (not so: but I don't need to convince you now). So we teamed up with orthopaedics outpatients to advertise a post apiece, and were most surprised to get a grand total of 62 applicants. Both Tuesday and Wednesday mornings were spent staring at a computer - we also had a new shortlisting online system to get to grips with - and sifting the wheat from the chaff.

Now I've been on the other side of things, and know the desperate feeling when you need to get out of one job and romp across the proverbially green grass on the other side of the fence. You'll apply for jobs that in no way match your knowledge and skills, and I'm sure I've put in the odd application form with a whiff of desperation about them. But around 30 of these were on a different scale entirely. Nurses from India, Pakistan, The Phillippines and Nigeria all stuck working in Nursing Homes and wanting to work in the NHS. They assured me in broken English that their communication skills were excellent; they reassured me that they knew how to operate all the acute monitoring equipment that we never use in outpatients. They told me they had work permits, or if they didn't that they soon would have. One begged me (please please please give me a chance...); one told me they needed the job so that they could stay with their family; one simply wrote, 'I am a refugee'. Not one (I tell a lie: we shortlisted one from overseas) met the criteria we were looking for. By the end of all that I felt cruel, which is not a feeling I have very often and certainly not one I enjoyed. I wonder what will happen to all those nurses - how many will stay, working in nursing home jobs that they hate and missing their experience in acute wards. I suspect that many of our elderly population will be nursed into their dying days by unhappy staff a long way from home. I wonder how that will feel for both carers and residents.

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