New Brunswick has more than 1,000 vacant nursing positions, according to data from the regional health networks.
More than three-quarters of the permanent positions are within the Horizon Health Network. It is looking for 542 registered nurses, 163 licensed practice nurses and 65 patient care assistants.
Horizon spokesperson Kris McDavid did not say how many of those vacancies are within hospital emergency departments.
Meanwhile, by December 31, the Vitalité Health Network must hire 261 registered nurses, 77 licensed practice nurses and 87 patient care associates.
Thirty-five of those openings are in ERs, a spokesman said.
IT’S PART OF A PLAN THAT REQUIRES A MULTITUDE OF IDEAS TO GET US OUT OF THE MESS WE’RE IN.
— Paula Doucet, President of the New Brunswick Nurses Union
Nursing shortages hamper health care in the province. Health facilities are understaffed and emergency departments are routinely temporarily closed due to a lack of nurses.
Many nurses are burned out working extra shifts and some are leaving the profession.
Paula Doucet, president of the New Brunswick Nurses Union, claims the province is currently unable to pull itself out of the nurse shortage, but hopes a pilot that will begin at Horizon in the coming weeks will help retain staff.
As part of the state government’s ongoing health care reforms, some nurses in certain departments will be able to set their own schedules.
It aims to increase job satisfaction, provide some flexibility and provide a better work-life balance.
“It’s part of a plan that will take a lot of ideas to get us out of the mess we’re in,” Doucet said.
Respect the ‘huge factor’, suggested retention bonus
“It won’t be a quick fix, but I think the fact that they’re willing to give back some autonomy to the nurses is a small step in showing respect for what they do.”
Respect is a “big factor” in job satisfaction for nurses, who have faced staff shortages even before the COVID-19 pandemic and have worked in what she called appalling conditions for the past three years.
As it stands, scheduling is centralized or nurses get their schedules in advance without saying much about when they prefer to work or when they need time off, Doucet said.
The union has been advocating for years to return autonomy to unit managers because they know their staff best, she said.
Doucet believes self-rostering would work well with full occupancy.
She said it may not be optimal given Horizon’s 770 job openings, but it is “a step in the right direction”.
The union also recently suggested that the Higgs government look into offering a retention bonus for nurses who “have made it through the last few years,” similar to the incentive offered in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In August, the Newfoundland and Labrador government announced a number of short-term incentives to retain nurses, including retention bonuses available to members of the Registered Nurses’ Union NL for a minimum one-year commitment.
Doucet declined to disclose the proposed amount for nurses in New Brunswick.
Still a great career
“If we ever want to hire new staff, we need to look at keeping the experienced staff that we have in our facilities now, because we need that experience here to guide them, orient them, you know, give them a really good to feel.” mentorship so they become really great nurses,” she said.
After working as a nurse for 27 years, Doucet said it’s still a great career and she still loves what she does.
“But it’s getting harder and harder to do that job when you have less resources and less support, and the system around us is just broken, to provide the optimal care that nurses want to provide.”
In addition to increasing its workforce, the county needs to look at its care model, capacity issues and long-term care, she said, pointing to the many seniors waiting in the hospital for a nursing home bed.
Horizon declined to provide more information about the self-rostering pilot, saying details such as which units will participate are still being finalized.
Vitalité is planning a 12-day recruitment trip abroad
Vitalité is “very proactive” in recruiting nurses, according to Frédéric Finn, vice president of employee experience.
Next month, health network representatives will travel to Ivory Coast, Morocco and Senegal on a 12-day international recruitment mission, he said.
“Our initiatives in New Brunswick, across Canada and internationally are beginning to pay off,” Finn said in an emailed statement.
Seventy-six international hires — nurse and patient care associates — are scheduled to arrive and begin at various times throughout the year, he said.
Since the beginning of last fall, Vitalité has hired 72 graduates of the registered nursing program, 65 graduates of the accredited practical nursing program and four graduates of the nursing program, who will begin work after graduation later this year, Finn said.
By: PiPa News