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BC Nursing Crisis

Filed in:Rachel
Our Life

BC Nursing Crisis

April 2nd, 2005  · stk

The Vancouver Sun newspaper ran a special article on Saturday, March 19th entitled "B.C. Heading for a Nursing Crisis". The upside, of course, is that Rachel will be graduating with a 4-year Nursing degree in little over a year. Job prospects in B.C. (and elsewhere) look good.

The article isn't available online, so I can't put up a link (I guess the Vancouver Sun wants you to actually PAY to read their paper ... go figure!). Some of the salient points are highlighted, below.

Nursing Shortage Facts

• Fully one-third of B.C. nurses are 55 or older, in a profession where the average age to retire is 58.

• Experts are predicting the loss of 50% of the entire nursing workforce within 10 years.

• B.C. currently trains only 50% of the nurses it needs. And as baby-boomer nurses retire, jurisdictions not just in B.C., but all over the World, will be competing for new graduates.

• The shortage will be felt most in highly specialized nursing areas, such as operating rooms, birthing programs & intensive care units, where nurses have aged together and are retiring en masse.

• St. Paul's Hospital, in Vancouver, lost 12 of it's 100 operating-room nurses within a six week period, late in 2004. Despite efforts to prepare for this, the hospital was forced to contract out surgeries because of the shortage.

• The average age of a B.C. nurse is currently 46.6 year, which is the highest in the nation.

• B.C. isn't the only Canadian Province to be facing such a shortage, though of all the Provinces, B.C.'s nursing shortage is most acute. Read the short Canadian Press 29-Jul-2003 article "Massive nursing shortage predicted".

• The B.C. nursing shortage will be most profound during 2008.

• As more work is asked of older nurses, there is a marked increase in absenteeism, which only exacerbates the situation

• The B.C. government has been aware of the impending challenge and began taking steps in 2001 to mitigate the problem. $63MM was allocated to nursing strategies since that year. They created a long-term planning committee, increased the number of nursing school seats by 50% (2100 slots), are working with the nurses union to develop strategies to keep nurses in the workforce and implemented financial programs to entice back nurses who've left the field.

• Adding nursing school seats alone, cannot solve the problem. There simply are not enough qualified people to train them, either in the classroom or on in clinical placements.

• Nursing was recently added to the list of 'preferred qualifications' for emigrating to Canada from other countries.

• Over 15% of the 2004 nursing graduates were over 35 years of age.

• Nurses entering the workforce in 2005 or later are required to have a 4-year degree.

• B.C. imports more nurses than any other Province and fully 91% of the B.C. home-grown graduates, remain in British Columbia. B.C. continues to be an attractive destination. (After having gone through a 'mild' Edmontonian winter, we fully understand WHY!)

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Updated: 1-Jun-2005
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