Nursing: A leading force for change
EDMONTON, May 6, 2013 /CNW/ - Registered nurses are the largest group of health professionals working in health care but, according to the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA), there is often a lack of awareness about the leadership they provide. National Nursing Week, May 6 to 12, is an opportunity to highlight the leadership registered nurses provide in clinical care, research, education and administration.
"As our health-care system is being transformed by new technologies, scientific knowledge and system pressures, registered nurses and nurse practitioners are developing and offering innovative solutions to improve patient safety and quality of care at all levels," says CARNA president, Dianne Dyer. "Today's registered nurse is a knowledgeable, expert professional who independently makes decisions related to direct care of patients with complex health conditions, coordinates care throughout the system and effectively supports patients, families and communities to prevent and manage chronic illness and injury and promote health. In addition to these essential contributions, we are senior leaders, administrators, managers, educators and researchers who are helping shape and improve the health system outcomes for Albertans."
As of September 30, 2012, there were 34,720 registered nurses in Alberta including 331 nurse practitioners. The top employment sectors were hospitals (58%) followed by nursing homes or long term care (6 %); community health agencies (6%) and a wide array of other work settings (30%). Research shows that the care provided by registered nurses shortens hospital stays, reduces hospital infections, reduces mortality and cuts wait times. In other words, contributions that help control and reduce health-care costs as well as improve access to care and services.
"Overall health-care costs are lower and health results are better in health systems with a strong primary care focus," says CARNA CEO Mary-Anne Robinson. "Registered nurses and nurse practitioners can provide more entry points into the health system and prevent health problems as well as catching them earlier when they do occur. They can also encourage more appropriate use of community resources and integrate care across different parts of the system."
The demographics of the province's registered nursing workforce reflects that of the general population. Significant numbers of nurses could retire in the next few years, given that 33% of registered nurses in Alberta are aged 51 years or older.
"We need sufficient numbers of registered nurses in the workforce to realize the full contribution the profession can make towards improving the health of the population and outcomes of health care," says Dyer. "It is extremely important to continue to invest in nursing education seats to provide enough new registered nurses to replace the third of the workforce which will be retiring over the next few years."
In 1971, the International Council of Nurses designated May 12 (Florence Nightingale's birthday) as International Nurses Day. In 1985, in recognition of the dedication and achievements of the nursing profession, the federal minister of health proclaimed the second week of May as National Nursing Week in Canada.
CARNA is the professional and regulatory body for Alberta's more than 34,000 registered nurses, including nurses in direct care, education, research and administration as well as nurse practitioners. Its mandate is to protect the public by ensuring that Albertans receive effective, safe and ethical care by registered nurses.
See fact sheet about Alberta's registered nurses.
NATIONAL NURSING WEEK - May 6 to 12, 2013
REGISTERED NURSES IN ALBERTA
- There are 34,720 registered nurses in Alberta, including 331 nurse practitioners
- Age of registered nurses
|51 years or older||33 per cent|
|41 - 50 years||23 per cent|
|31 - 40 years||24 per cent|
|30 years and under|| 20 per cent
- 38 per cent of registered nurses work full-time; 43 per cent work part-time and 14 per cent work on a casual basis. The remainder are employed in other industries, are not employed or are on leave.
- Where RNs work
|Place of employment||Per cent|
|Hospitals||58 per cent|
|Nursing homes/long term care||6 per cent|
|Community health agency||6 per cent|
|Other||30 per cent|
- In the past practice year, there was a noticeable increase in the number of permits issued to registered nurses moving to Alberta from other Canadian provinces/territories. The number increased from 392 in 2011 to 571 in 2012. Most of these applicants came from Ontario (174), British Columbia (151) and Saskatchewan (52).
- The number of permits issued to applicants from outside of Canada dropped significantly from 317 in 2010 to 169 in 2012.
SOURCE: College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta