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Nursing shortage

Another delay was announced Friday in opening the kidney dialysis unit at the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre.

Another delay was announced Friday in opening the kidney dialysis unit at the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre.

Eastern Healths Director of Integrated Health Services on the Peninsula Beth Mayo explained a shortage of nurses, as a result of poor recruitment, and some equipment delays means a planned-for June opening date is now set back to November.

Nurses are needed to operate the dialysis unit and need 6-8 weeks training for this posting.

She said Eastern Health has experienced more difficulties this year in nurse recruitment than in the past.

Alright, fair enough. Most people know its difficult attracting nurses to rural regions.

But, Canadian Nurses Association president Marlene Smadu, in a Nurses Week (May 7-12) press release, projected 15 per cent of this

springs new graduates will not find employment.

And, if members of the 2007 graduating classes follow the pattern of recent years, nearly one in 10 of the approximately 8,000 nurse graduates will move to the United States for work.

Ms. Smadu called on governments to act on the human resources strategy they promised in 2004, by hiring all of this years graduating nurses and increasing full-time positions for nurses in general. She claimed these monies have been allocated.

Yet, the Calgary Health Region implemented a major off-shore recruitment campaign while graduates from nursing schools in other parts of Canada are facing the prospect of no jobs. If Alberta is having problems, then what hope is there for Atlantic Canada?

While the Ontario government has guaranteed seven and a-half months of full-time employment to its nursing graduates, other governments are ignoring the investments made in educating new nurses.

Ms. Smadu estimated it costs taxpayers between $40,000-$50,000 to support each student in a nursing education program. If 1,200 nurses dont have jobs, it represents a loss of $72 million invested in their education.

A 2006 report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Workforce Trends of Registered Nurses in Canada 2005, found for the fifth year in a row, only half of registered nurses have fulltime employment. The report also found up to 30 per cent of RNs educated in Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI and Saskatchewan no longer work in those provinces.

According to Industry Canada, during the 1990s, Canada witnessed a gross outflow of approximately 27,100 RNs through permanent emigration to the United States.

The quandary we have new nursing graduates each year, who cant find full time employment. As a result, many leave for the U.S.

However, governments are investing millions of dollars into health care programs and education, although recruitment remains a major issue.

Why are health care centres not able to recruit full time nurses to provide needed services, such as kidney dialysis? With Calgary taking bold initiatives, then rural centres must take even bolder steps to attract nurses.

If the community is the problem, then the community has to step up the plate and correct, or at least lessen, the problems nursing graduates perceive.

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