Stats Show Practical Solutions Underway for Nursing Shortages

    MISSISSAUGA, ON, Jan. 21 /CNW/ - The Registered Practical Nurses
Association of Ontario (RPNAO), representing Registered Practical Nurses
(RPNs) throughout the province, announced today that an analysis of the
recently released annual membership statistics by the College of Nurses of
Ontario (CNO) indicate some encouraging trends, but also areas that require
attention. The good news is that RPN numbers are up in the province.
    Dianne Martin, Executive Director of the RPNAO said, "We look forward
every year to the release of the CNO's membership statistics in order to track
how the RPN profession is doing, primarily on its own, but also in relation to
Registered Nurses (RNs). Government initiatives over the past year, focused on
advancement of RPNs, are clearly having the desired impact, demonstrating that
more efforts could result in greater gains to assist in meeting nursing
shortages by fuller utilization of RPNs."
    According to the RPNAO, the biggest news is a net increase of 1,112 of
RPNs registered with the CNO. This compares to a net decrease of RNs (161). It
is important to note that meeting the healthcare needs of Ontarians will
require steady increases in the numbers of both RPNs and RNs.
    Other encouraging trends identified in the CNO statistics include:

    The percentage of RPNs working in long-term care homes increased from
33.7% in 2006 to 35.7% in 2007, while the percentage employed in acute care
hospitals remains the same at 44.5%.

    58.9% of RPNs were hired into full-time employment during their first
year after registration.

    The vast majority of RPNs continue to work in direct practice (95.13%),
but there is a steady, but small, increase in the percentage of RPNs working
in management and administration, a field which has historically been very
difficult for RPNs to penetrate.

    The percentage of RPNs who are between 25 and 29 years old has increased
from 3.4% in 2006 to 4.2% in 2007. Given concerns related to the aging nursing
workforce, this is an encouraging trend. Unfortunately, the percentage of RNs
in that cohort has decreased (10.3% in 2006 to 9.6% in 2007).

    Monica Seawright, RPN, President of the RPNAO noted that one of the
persistent challenges facing the profession has been the limited availability
of full-time jobs for RPNs in the healthcare system.
    "The preference for part-time employment by many employers puts RPNs and
other nurses at a financial disadvantage and also imposes huge personal and
social costs. We are very disappointed, therefore, to see that the 2007
statistics indicate a slight overall decrease in the number of RPNs working
full-time. At 54.9%, the overall full-time status of RPNs remains
discouragingly short of the 70% goal. It's also disappointing to see that the
percentage of both RPNs and RNs engaged in research has decreased. We need
more nurses doing research to support evidence-based practice," added
    "While we are encouraged by many of the trends we see in the CNO data,
there remain a few areas that require more work, namely increased penetration
of management and administrative positions by RPNs, a higher ratio of
full-time employment and increased employment in clinical research," stated
Dianne Martin. "These are the areas where we will be working to address with
governments, with healthcare service and delivery organizations and other
stakeholders. Hopefully, the 2008 statistics will indicate improvements in
each of these areas, as well."

    RPNs are regulated by the CNO under the Regulated Health Professions Act,
1991 and the Nursing Act, 1991. The professional title "Registered Practical
Nurse" is a protected title under that legislation and is only available to
those who have met the education and other competency requirements specified
by the CNO and who have been registered by the CNO. The RPNAO is the
voluntary, professional association for Registered Practical Nurses who are
registered to practise in Ontario.
    There are more than 32,000 RPNs registered by the CNO of which more than
28,000 are currently practising.
    The full release of the CNOs membership statistics can be found at

For further information:

For further information: Registered Practical Nurses Association of
Ontario, 5025 Orbitor Drive, Suite 200, Mississauga, ON, L4W 4Y5, Telephone:
(905) 602-4664, Executive Director, Dianne Martin, ext 226

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