CALGARY, Jan. 26, 2012 /CNW/ - The report released today by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Regulated Nurses: Canadian Trends, 2006-2010, reinforces the importance of continuing to invest in the nursing workforce, according to the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA).
"In Alberta, the challenges of an aging nursing workforce are combined with increased health-care demands from a population that is both aging demographically and growing in numbers as the economy improves," says Dianne Dyer, CARNA president. "As the report shows, nearly 26 per cent of the province's registered nurses are age 55 and older and many of these nurses may be considering retirement. The loss of experienced registered nurses affects direct patient care and reduces access to the leadership needed to mentor new graduates and internationally educated nurses."
CIHI figures show Alberta has the third lowest number of registered nurses relative to the size of the population. Alberta has 771 registered nurses per 100,000 people compared to 682 for British Columbia and 721 for Ontario while the Canadian average is 787 per 100,000. The registered nurse workforces in BC (15.5%), Ontario (12.1%) and Alberta (10.8%) had the highest concentrations of internationally educated nurses.
"The nursing shortage can only be addressed by increasing the number of nursing education spaces, hiring most of the new graduates each year and developing innovative strategies to retain existing staff," says Dyer. "Faculties of nursing will graduate approximately 1,900 nurses by 2013, close to government's target to graduate 2,000 nurses by 2012. Alberta Health Services' commitment to hire at least 70 per cent of Alberta's nursing graduates is a step in the right direction."
In 2010, 91.6 per cent of Alberta registered nurses identified direct care as their area of responsibility while the proportion employed in administration was 8.4 per cent, lower than the national average of 10.7 per cent.
"The report tells us where registered nurses are working currently in the health system and reflects a health system where registered nurses and nurse practitioners are not making the contribution they could make to improving access to health services," says Mary-Anne Robinson, CARNA's chief executive officer. "They could be used more extensively to provide community primary care services including effective management of chronic illness and promoting health. That is why CARNA supports the introduction of new initiatives such as family care clinics where registered nurses, nurse practitioners and other health providers could work together in inter-disciplinary teams in the community."
CARNA is the professional and regulatory body for Alberta's 33,000 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.
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