Canada's health system faces another year of nursing student graduate shortfalls

    OTTAWA, June 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada continues to graduate too few
nursing students to meet the needs of the current and future health system.
The Nursing Education Statistics in Canada, 2006-2007 report released today
shows that 9,447 nursing students eligible for licensure or registration as
registered nurses graduated in 2007.
    According to the president of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA),
Marlene Smadu, this data must serve as a wake-up call to governments and
employers since research shows that we should be graduating at least 12,000
nursing students a year.
    "Although we are pleased to see the number of nursing graduates
increasing nationally from the low in 2000, when fewer than 5,000 graduated,
this number is nowhere near to meeting employers' demands and is therefore
further compounding today's critical nursing shortage," said Smadu. "If we
want a sustainable health system for all, governments must accelerate
investments in nursing education, including innovative programs and
technology, and employers must find ways of optimizing our existing workforce
because focusing on educational seats alone will not reverse the shortage."
    Specifically, the report by the Canadian Nurses Association and the
Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) shows that the number of
nursing graduates increased in all but four provinces or territories in 2007:
the Northwest Territories, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The
three provinces or territories with the largest increase in graduates in 2007
were Nunavut, Ontario and British Columbia.
    Canada has consistently graduated fewer nursing students than it did
30 years ago, despite a 39 per cent increase in the Canadian population over
that same time period.

    Nursing program innovations are part of the solution

    Fast-track programs are becoming increasingly popular and more accessible
to students as evidenced by the almost 19 per cent growth in such programs in
2006-07. They are seen as part of the solution to increasing the nursing
supply as they allow students to complete their education in less time than
traditional programs and include accelerated, compressed, second-degree entry,
advanced entry and bridging programs. Nine of the twelve provinces and
territories with nursing education programs offered one or more fast-track
programs during the academic year 2006-07.
    According to Ellen Rukholm, executive director of CASN, offering flexible
and innovative options is the way of the future. "Nursing is ranked as one of
the most promising careers in the coming decades and most schools are
oversubscribed. We need to think outside of the box when it comes to
overcoming challenges in our health system and recognize that educational
institutions are part of the solution to meeting the demand for health
services. They must continue to be proactive in overcoming challenges and
Canadians must be aware of the critical need for additional infrastructure
like buildings as well as seats and faculty to accommodate more students into
nursing programs."

    Why employers need to pay attention

    Employers cannot rely solely on the traditional supply of nurses through
educational programs and must look at optimizing the skills and knowledge of
the existing nursing workforce. CNA urges employers to look at improving their
management practices by addressing unhealthy work environments that lead to
high absenteeism rates, enhancing access to research and increasing the
availability of tools, both low-tech such as mechanical lifts and high-tech
such as Blackberries for community health nurses.
    In addition, employers must also look at workplace policies such as
moving away from part-time to full-time employment opportunities,
incorporating more teamwork, promoting new models of care delivery and finding
innovative ways of retaining RNs in the health system longer.
    This annual report provides the only comprehensive national snapshot of
registered nursing education and nursing graduates in Canada.

    CASN is the national voice for nursing education and nursing research and
    represents 91 programs providing all or part of university nursing
    education across Canada. CASN's objective is to lead nursing education
    and nursing scholarship in the interest of healthier Canadians.

    CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. It
    is a federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and
    colleges. CNA believes that the sustainability of a publicly funded,
    publicly administered, not-for-profit health system rests upon a vibrant
    nursing workforce.

For further information:

For further information: To arrange an interview, contact: Tina Grznar,
Canadian Nurses Association, Cell: (613) 266-0306,; Ellen
Rukholm, Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing,; For a
copy of the report contact Tina Grznar at

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Canadian Nurses Association

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Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing

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