About Me

undergrad RN
I'm a twenty-something Canadian student. After stumbling through a few years of college, I finally managed to get into the nursing school of my dreams, where I hope to graduate in 2012 with a nursing baccalaureate degree. I want to offer an honest look into how a modern nurse is educated, both good and bad. Eventually I hope to compare my education to my day-to-day career and see how it holds up. Whatever happens, it should be somewhat entertaining. Find me on allnurses.com!
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Thursday, August 7, 2008

UNA: Alberta Still Lagging in Nurse Education

Behold, from the news page of the United Nurses of Alberta:

Alberta still lagging in nurse education
Summit on health workforce shows new emphasis on efficiency

Although recently released numbers on nursing show
the shortage is still worsening, the Alberta government has not announced significant new efforts to deal with the growing problem.

Several projects under the Health Workforce Action Plan are continuing according to Linda Mattern, the Executive Director at Health and Wellness for Workforce Policy and Planning Branch. Mattern said that expanding health training programs continues to be the largest strategy in the Plan, but it still is only targeting 2,000 RN grads by 2012. That’s the increase Premier Ed Stelmach made as his first promise going in to the provincial election earlier this year.

Mattern also said the Action Plan is funding projects to increase clinical training capacity because “it’s very difficult to free up preceptor time.”

Mattern was speaking at the second “Health Workforce Summit” meeting held in Edmonton June 19. Much of the focus of the summit was NOT on expanding the workforce but on making it more “efficient” and doing more with less, both messages that are not encouraging for nurses. The “new focus” Mattern noted is “optimizing the utilization of Alberta’s health workforce, using technology and “high performing work environments”.

In the same vein, keynote speaker Chip Caldwell promoted manufacturing industry efficiency programs “Lean” and “Six Sigma” partly developed by Toyota. Caldwell was promoting “healthcarizing” these efficiency plans and noted how many millions of dollars were being saved in U.S. hospitals.

Mattern also reported on government support for international recruitment of nurses and health workers, and on their plans to increase the province’s capacity to assess and register “IENs”, that is, internationally educated nurses. The government has also added another $27.5 million toward purchasing lift and transfer devices and Employment and Immigration is launching a “No Unsafe Lifts” campaign. The campaign target is to reduce injuries by 25% and keep as many as 1,000 nurses healthy and on the job each year.

Canadian nurse education
numbers discouraging

Numbers released June 17 by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing show that
RN education is NOT rapidly expanding across the country. Their national survey showed only 9,447 new RNs graduated in 2007, only a small increase from previous years and still below the levels of the 1970s. Even more concerning was the slow growth in enrolment. The report showed 12,877 new nursing students admitted in 2007, an increase from 2006, but below the 2001 level.

“Research suggests that 12,000 graduates per year are needed to address the projected nursing shortage,” concludes the survey. That’s 27% more graduates than Canada had in 2007.

Alberta projections far short of
2,000 new RN grads in 2012

The Stelmach government’s principle election promise on the nursing shortage was to graduate 2,000 new RNs a year by 2012, but UNA has recently obtained Advanced Education documents that project only 1,657 new grads by then. [I'll be one of them!]

The Advanced Education Department supplied a report on RN and LPN enrolment and graduate projections through to 2011-2012 in response to a Freedom of Information request from UNA. The 2007 report showed 1,239 RN grads in 2006, but only 1,367 in 2010 and then a slight rise to 1,657 in 2012. LPN graduate numbers only rise from 635 in 2006 to 781 in 2012.

Nursing programs turn away
hundreds of qualified applicants

A new report from Alberta Advanced Education shows that nursing programs in Alberta had to refuse admission to hundreds of qualified applicants last year. Nursing had by far the largest number of “turn-aways” at 438, accounting had 298 and medicine only 120.

Evidently, there are far more Albertans interested in a nursing career than our nursing programs can handle. UNA’s successful collective bargaining is making nursing a top career choice in the province and greatly helps attract new nurses.

High demand, high interest, and the bottleneck is in getting us all through school. I'm sure this is not news to most of us, but still damned frustrating for those who want to get in but aren't being accepted.

In other news, while researching RN salaries I came across my future pay, and I'm mentally tabulating how many horses I can keep. I LOVE unions. My aunt told me a story the other day about how her nurse manager was pinning the blame on her for a doctor's mistake, and my aunt went to her union rep and they went to battle for her. The manager ended up getting some serious heat, and my aunt didn't really have to do a thing. Not sure what happened to the doctor!


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