New Graduate Mental Health Nursing Programme

New Graduate Mental Health Nursing Programme

New Graduate Mental Health Programmes

The Southern District Health Board has provided a programme for new graduate nurses to work in the specialty of Mental Health since 1997. We offer a programme at post graduate level that is funded by Te Pou and accredited by the Nursing Council.

The New Graduate Programme is designed specifically for graduates of comprehensive nursing programmes to take a beginning practitioner role and to develop specific knowledge and skills required in the specialty field of Mental Health Nursing. You will be enrolled at the University of Auckland in two Post graduate Nursing Papers. On successful completion of both papers you will be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Sciences (Mental Health Nursing). You will also have a Level 2 portfolio which meets Nursing Council standards for competency.  

New Graduate nurses entering the programme are employed within mental health services in Southland and Otago with the aim to provide safe, supportive and stimulating environment to ease the transition from student nurse to registered nurse.

Appointments will be subject to the passing of the State Final.

Placements within the Southern DHB (Otago/Southland) will be identified as part of the National Recruitment Process.

2020 NESP

The Southern District Health Board will be offering approximately 11 NESP placements across the Mental Health service.


Mental Health & Addictions


Ward 6C – Dunedin Hospital

Ward 9A – Wakari Hospital

Ward 10 – Wakari Hospital

Acute Inpatients Units - Wakari Hospital

Southern Rivers Community Mental Health - Gore

Child, Adolescent & Family Services – Southland Hospital

Mental Health Unit – Southland Hospital

Maori Mental Health – Southland Hospital

Placements within the Adult Mental Health Service/Specialist Mental Health Service (Otago/Southland) will occur as follows:
The New Graduate applies for a position within the Southern DHB Mental Health Services based in either Invercargill or Dunedin, this qualifies them to enter the NESP Programme.

The NESP programme begins in March, however, your commencement date of employment will be negotiated between yourself and the Charge Nurse Manager, anywhere between December and the end of January. During this time, you will enrol with the University of Auckland an undertake a comprehensive range of Southern DHB orientation programmes.

Programme Outline

The programme we offer has four cornerstones which enhance the engagement of the New Graduate with the learning experience:
















                                                                                    (Casey and Simmonds, 2004)

Clinical Practice

Provides an environment that supports and enables the new graduate to develop their skills as Registered Nurses.  The new graduates will be employed by the Southern DHB into a permanent position in Otago or a one year contract in Southland.


Preceptorship is an educational relationship, which involves orientation, teaching support and guidance from a registered nurse in your clinical setting.  The aim of the relationship is to assist the new graduate with the transition from student to registered nurse.  All preceptors attend a preceptor training workshop that is provided by the Southern DHB.

Clinical Supervision

Clinical Supervision is another vital cornerstone of Mental Health Nursing practice.  The aim of this relationship is to enhance safe practice, to provide a supportive environment for the new graduate to explore, examine, clarify and reflect on their experiences.

Faugier (1994) describes clinical supervision as "activity of examining one's practice with a more experienced and skilled professional in a formal relationship".


The theory content is aimed at providing specific information to add to your existing knowledge base and to extend your base of clinical skills.  This includes a comprehensive orientation to the Southern DHB Mental Health Service. Examples of content includes:

  • Mental Health and Physical Health Assessment
  • Recovery based Models of Care and Trauma Informed Care
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Development of Therapeutic Relationships
  • Addiction and Co-existing Problems
  • Talking Therapies
  • Legislation
  • Managing Risk
  •  Stigma and Discrimination and Social Justice
  • Psychopharmacology


Entry Criteria

  • Newly Registered Nurse with an Annual Practising Certificate (APC)
  • Be a NZ citizen or hold a NZ permanent resident visa
  • Must have no restrictions of practice on the APC that would impact on their ability to participate in the programme
  • Must be able to work a minimum of 0.8 FTE
  • The ability to study at Level 8 of the NZQA framework
  • Those RN’s wanting to extend their scope of practice into Mental Health, Addictions and Intellectual Disability should contact the Director of Nursing or the NESP Programme Coordinator

We are happy to discuss and provide information relating to the NESP opportunities within our DHB - however you should note that for the January/February intake, all applications can only be made through the Nursing Advanced Choice of Employment (ACE) website which will open for applications on the 15 August 2018.

To apply go to the ACE website

Contact Details

Shirley McKewen 
New Entry to Specialist Practise (NESP)
Mental Health, Intellectual Disability and Addiction Nursing
Programme Coordinator
Southern District Health Board
Phone:  03 4769366