National Report Confirms Priorities for Addressing Alberta RN Shortage

    EDMONTON, May 11 /CNW/ - According to the College and Association of
Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA), Testing Solutions for Eliminating
Canada's Registered Nurse Shortage, a report released today by the Canadian
Nurses Association (CNA), confirms the urgency of providing supports for
Alberta's registered nurses (RNs) in order to address the RN shortage. A
survey conducted on CARNA's behalf last year found that RNs spend, on average,
27 per cent of their work day performing non-registered nursing activities
that could be handled by a support worker. According to the new report, a one
per cent increase in RN productivity would cut the nursing shortage by about
forty-seven per cent over 15 years.
    "Increasing productivity means providing resources, such as support staff
and nursing aides, and organizing services effectively so that registered
nurses can focus providing the professional nursing care they have been
educated to provide," says Margaret Hadley, CARNA president. "It is important
to understand that increasing productivity does not mean simply working harder
but working smarter. By providing supports to the current RN workforce, the
quality of care and number of health services provided can be improved in a
cost-efficient manner."
    The CNA report tested six different policy scenarios to deal with a
projected national RN shortage of 60,000 FTEs by 2022: increasing
productivity, reducing annual absenteeism, increasing enrollment in nursing
education programs, improving retention of practicing RNs, reducing attrition
rates in entry-to-practice programs and reducing international in-migration.
The Alberta government is projecting a shortage of 6,000 registered nurses by
the year 2016 despite significant increases in the numbers of nurses being
educated in the province and coming to Alberta from other provinces and
countries. Government has invested in nursing education seats, increasing
numbers to 2000 per year by 2012 but CARNA does not believe the number of
graduates will be adequate to address needed supply given there were only
1,375 registered nursing graduates in 2007-08.
    "The challenge is more than simply increasing ratios of registered nurses
to other health providers or even creating a general health-care provider to
population ratio," says Mary-Anne Robinson, CARNA executive director. "As this
report points out, it is essential to estimate the future requirements for RNs
based on the needs of the specific population being served. Previous research
has already shown that sufficient levels of RN staffing can increase
efficiencies/decrease costs through reduced rates of readmission, fewer errors
contributing to length of stay, reduced mortality, and improved infection
    The report also points out that an intervention aimed at one variable in
the system may simultaneously affect other variables. For example, policies
aimed at increasing RN productivity, such as increased job security or reduced
safety concerns, extra opportunities for skill development or career
advancement and better technological resources may also improve RN retention
rates (O'Brien-Pallas et al., 2008).

    CARNA is the professional and regulatory body for Alberta's 32,000 RNs,
the largest health- care profession in the province. Its membership includes
registered nurses in direct care, administration, management and education.
CARNA sets nursing practice standards and ensures Albertans receive safe,
competent and ethical nursing practice.

For further information:

For further information: Margaret Ward-Jack, Tel (780) 453-0515, Cell
(780) 932-1376, E-mail

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College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta

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