Eliminating Canada's RN shortage

    OTTAWA, May 11 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Nurses Association released a
report on six policy scenarios today that, if implemented together, could
eliminate Canada's registered nursing (RN) shortage.
    Tested Solutions for Eliminating Canada's Registered Nurse Shortage
demonstrates that if significant action isn't taken now, the shortage of
registered nurses who provide direct, clinical care to Canadians will climb
from the equivalent of nearly 11,000 full-time nurses in 2007 to almost 60,000
in 2022.
    "The recent H1N1 flu virus is a reminder that Canada needs a nursing
workforce that can meet the health challenges of our nation," said CNA
president Kaaren Neufeld. "At times like these, a shortage of registered
nurses only adds to an already worrisome situation."
    According to Neufeld, the report will help governments, employers,
decision-makers and others improve RN shortages using a combination of short-
and long-term policy scenarios. "At the same time, it will reduce our
dependency on registered nurses from other countries that can't afford to lose
their nurses."
    If implemented together, the six scenarios outlined in the report can
eradicate the nursing shortage.
    In the short term, a change in work practices that supports RNs to
provide quality care through initiatives such as hiring support staff to take
on non-nursing tasks, employing a team-based collaborative approach to care,
and using technology - which results in a one per cent annual increase in
productivity of the RN workforce - would have a remarkable impact on the
shortage, cutting it almost in half over a 15-year time frame.
    The report points out that keeping nurses in the profession is also an
important part of building Canada's RN workforce. If the yearly loss of RNs
under the age of 60 was less than two per cent, and the loss of those 60 or
over was no more than 10 per cent, then 30,000 full-time nurses would
effectively be added to Canada's nursing supply, cutting the shortage in half
over 15 years.
    Other policies tested include reducing the number of students who don't
finish their nursing education from 28 per cent to 15 per cent, thus lowering
the gap by another 24 per cent and adding the equivalent of 15,000 nurses over
15 years. Increasing the number of students enrolling in registered nursing
programs by 1,000 per year between 2009 and 2011 would also reduce the gap by
one-quarter (or 15,000 nurses) over 15 years. In addition, cutting the average
number of missed days of work per year by half over the next three years (from
the current 14 days per nurse) would be like adding 7,000 full-time nurses to
Canada's registered nursing pool. The final policy tested was to decrease
international in-migration by 50 per cent, which would increase the RN
shortage, but only by less than 10%.
    "We're very excited at these promising numbers," said Neufeld. "These are
realistic and tested solutions to a serious problem that is affecting
Canadians' health across the country. We urge all stakeholders to build these
findings into their HHR planning and management of the RN workforce."
    CNA commissioned the report from a team of researchers lead by Gail
Tomblin Murphy, Professor, School of Nursing /Faculty of Health Professions,
and Director, WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centre on Health Workforce Planning and
Research, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

For further information:

For further information: To receive a copy of Tested Solutions for
Eliminating Canada's Registered Nurse Shortage, and/or to schedule an
interview with a CNA spokesperson, please contact: Nancy Ritt-Hoadley, Interim
Communications Coordinator, Canadian Nurses Association (613) 237-2159 X 283,
Cell: (613) 864-1371, media@cna-aiic.ca

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