Why Don’t Registered Nurses Want to Work in Aged Care?

Nurse Aged Care

I graduated as a New Zealand RN in 1988 and like most of my colleagues went to the DHB for my first job – which was awesome! Over time I had the opportunity to move into trauma, primary healthcare and most recently the aged care sector.

I now run a health recruitment company and we focus on the aged care and community sectors. One of our biggest challenges is finding registered nurses for this sector. We constantly advertise registered nurse jobs and try to promote both the benefits of working for us but also this beautiful sector. Unfortunately jobs in aged care does not seem to hold great appeal for registered nurses and this article from the MOH regarding new graduate registered nurses reinforces this. I guess what this article, also linked below, shows is that even as a newly graduating nurse – the aged care sector does not hold much appeal. Why is this the case?


Historically, and considering my own aspirations as an nurse, the aged care sector seemed to have the reputation of being hard work, heavy and perhaps less glamorous than the DHB sector (not the DHB is that glamorous I might add)! In addition, I remember thinking that I might not be exposed to a large range of clinical skills or opportunity to develop as an RN in aged care. 20+ years later I realise this is not the case, and in fact with the evolution of aged care the exact opposite applies in my view. Working as a registered nurse in aged care is hugely rewarding and the nursing assessment, clinical skills and knowledge required to work in a rest home, hospital and/or dementia unit are vast and stimulating. Whilst there are plenty of policies and protocols helping to govern best practice, the key benefit of working in registered nurse jobs in aged care is the fact that you are able to support and influence your residents/patients (family and whanau) every single day in every part of their lives. The older person in a rest home or hospital is reliant on the RN to help them be well, be emotionally supported and be engaged to the best of their ability with ‘life’. Often in a public hospital/acute environment, the focus is on discharge from the day you enter the system. This means, that the care planning and services in place are geared toward ‘fixing’ the ailment so that the person can return home. Conversely in aged care often this is the person’s ‘home’ and your role as a RN is a privileged one – supporting that person to be as well, happy and active in their home!

Considering registered nurse jobs, I for one love the opportunity, creativity and clinical expertise needed in aged care and encourage RN’s in New Zealand to consider this career pathway. I totally acknowledge that in some cases the $$ can be less than the DHB or other sectors, (that is a whole different discussion!!) however, if you are an RN and seeking a registered nurse job that is stimulating, makes a difference every single day and where you can be part of helping someone in their later years – then this is definitely a role for you to consider.

Learn more about the registered nurse jobs in aged care that Medcall has by going to our jobs pages: Nurse jobs at Medcall »