Financial strains on health care, the mass exodus of retiring nurses and a high attrition rates of nursing graduates will continue to have serious implications on our healthcare system. As nursing students and future registered nurses (RNs), these current healthcare facts urged the Canadian Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA) to write a letter explaining why nurses are essential to the healthcare system and some of the current challenges both nursing students and nurses are facing. Our hope is to bring these issues to the attention of candidates running for federal office in local ridings.
Nurses are the largest body of healthcare providers in Canada and are at the heart of patient care. Nurses work in all facets of the healthcare system including, but not limited to: community, clinical settings, government, rural and remote care, research and education. Nurses work intimately with patients offering highly skilled clinical expertise while fostering trusting relationships that are built on advocacy, professional responsibilities and client-centered care. Nursing leadership is integral to a strong healthcare system and must be advocated for and protected.
Between 1990 and the year 2000, 40 percent of graduate RNs left the profession due to the strain imposed on them by a lack of nursing mentorship stemming from nursing shortages. Attrition rates are associated with student debt, high stress working environments and staffing shortages. In 2010, $26,000 was the average student loan debt for Canadian students finishing a bachelors or masters program. In 2014, there was a significant reduction in RN license renewals compared to 2013. Contributing factors were retirement, changes in careers and changes in the regulatory body resulting in the first decline in decades. Public sector nurses worked 20,627,800 hours of overtime in 2010, the equivalent of 11,400 jobs costing $891 million per year.
In considering these facts, we are asking those who will be heading to Ottawa to form our new government to address student debt, provide mentorship for new graduates, and improve work environments and safe staffing levels for quality patient care. Please go to the CNSA website for more information at: http://cnsa.ca/english
If you agree with the listed recommendations please send the letter on the CNSA website to your local riding candidate to build awareness and create change! We have power in numbers and as the nurses of tomorrow we must rally together to support healthcare in Canada.
Thank you for your support and don't forget to vote!
ABOUT CNSA The CNSA is the voice of nursing students and represents students in baccalaureate, practical, and psychiatric nursing entry-to-practice programs in Canada. For over forty years, CNSA has represented the interests of nursing students at local, provincial, national, and international levels, as well as within the nursing and healthcare communities. The CNSA, has nearly 30,000 members, is an affiliate member of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and Practical Nurses Canada, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN).
ABOUT MICAH THOMPSON Micah Thompson is a fourth year student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at North Island College in the Comox Valley. She was lucky enough to grow up with a mother who loves being a nurse and who sparked a passion for nursing inside of Micah at a young age. As a child, Micah wanted to grow up to help people like her mother did. As she has progressed through the nursing program, Micah has come to understand the responsibility and opportunity she has to advocate for the nursing profession and health care in Canada. In recognizing that just a few voices can create change, Micah wanted to work alongside the CNSA to inform election candidates of the current situation for nurses and nursing students today in hopes of making a positive change.
Thank you Micah!
Nursing is a vital patient care role that must be protected and promoted, and we need passionate, knowledgeable, advocates in the profession to ensure our clients get the best care, in the right setting, at the right time!
Transition into the workforce is a place where I agree we can set a healthy stage for nurses to begin their careers. When I graduated in 2005, I got hired into a new graduate program that had enhanced mentorship and extended time for orientation. If I hadn't gotten into that program, I would be a very different nurse today, likely a much unhappier one!
Ensuring that new nurses are supported to flourish in their practice settings is the responsibility of all nurses, with nursing and other healthcare leaders needing to put structures and processes in place to enable that to happen - but they can only do that if government and public policy do not roadblock it! Thank you for advocating for all of us in the profession to contact our elected officials to raise the profile of healthcare in the political arena, our patients deserve it!
Keep up the excellent advocacy and looking forward to working with you someday soon!
Thank you Micah for your blog post and to the CNSA for creating this excellent letter showcasing not only the issues that nursing is facing, but putting out clear solutions for improvement. We absolutely need to take this information to government and protect the sustainability of our public not for profit healthcare system. Just imagine how many nursing jobs or mentorship programs that could be created with the $891 million that is being spent just on overtime each year.
Thank you again for helping to improve not only the nursing profession but our healthcare system as a whole.
A very strong and thoughtful post here Micah, and a very strong and thoughtful document prepared by the CNSA for the federal election campaign.
I agree with you completely that the issues facing our graduating nurses seem to further undermine our vision of having a robust, happy, and well supported nursing workforce.
Thank you for your leadership in helping to bring these issues, along with reasonable and well thought-out solutions, into the minds of nurses and voters in advance of the election. I think there are some great ideas here that can be brought forward to the CNA for consideration when planning our federal government relations and lobbying campaigns.
Keep up your passion for advocacy!
I graduated into the profession of nursing in 1994. I was so fortunate to have exemplary nurse mentors in my undergraduate program at U of A and also when I entered my first full time position as a home care nurse in Hinton, Alberta. Without the individual and environmental supports that I received in those early years I am certain I would not have had the courage or tenacity to pull through a number of very stressful work related situations. I am totally in awe of your leadership and I commit to you to send this letter that has been created in the circles I travel as the ARNBC Aboriginal BOD. All the best Micah and keep up the good fight! We are behind you all the way!