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STORY SUMMARY: YELLOWKNIFE (August 22, 2007) - The Government of the
Northwest Territories (GNWT) is taking steps to ensure full-time, career
advancement opportunities are available to nurses from across the country at
the same time as the Canadian Nurses Association is projecting 15 per cent of
new nursing graduates will not find employment. "Through initiatives like the
Community Health Nurse Development Program, the GNWT offers paid, professional
development through additional education while nurses work in the Northwest
Territories," said the Honourable Floyd K. Roland, Minister of Health and
The Community Health Nurse Development Program was developed to offer
nurse graduates opportunities outside an acute care setting. This program
provides an innovative approach for nurse graduates to expand their scope of
practice, enabling them to provide front-line care to community residents.
Nurses working in northern communities obtain skills that make them some of
the best-trained nurses in Canada.
The GNWT continues to take a leadership role in creating innovative
solutions to the well documented, national nursing shortage that Canada is
facing. Continuing its commitment made through the Health Human Resources
Strategy, all northern graduates who obtain a license to practice are offered
full-time employment in health centers and hospitals throughout the Northwest
"Nursing Prospects Good in Northwest Territories"
A recent report from the Canadian Nurses Association projects that 15% of
graduates will not be able to find full-time employment, while an
additional 10% will head to the United States to find work. The resulting
nursing shortage is having a huge impact on frontline health care across
the country, and the Northwest Territories is determined to do something
"Nursing graduates who come out of the colleges and universities across
Canada are having difficulty finding job placements early, and that is
why we as the government of the Northwest Territories have developed our
program the way we have. And that is, to take nursing graduates out of
their college and university and offer them a program - for example, our
community health nurse initiative - and offer additional education and
the opportunity for more professional development, paid, in the Northwest
Territories while you do your work for us here."
Although acute care training for hospitals in urban centres is crucial,
rural and remote areas require the development of community health
nurses, who have to train for an expanded scope of practise.
"You need to be a generalist, but you need to be really good at being a
generalist. There is so much that you need to know, and such a variety of
work that you need to cover."
One of the chief challenges in recruiting for the North is the
misconception that it's cold and barren, with nothing to do.
"It's just the whole environment up here. It's the wildlife, it's the
hiking, the camping, the fishing you know, the outdoor life, it's a
"When I was working in Halifax, people thought I was crazy to come up
here, and very quickly I've really decided I made a great choice."
Despite perceptions of the North, the NWT's guarantee of full-time
employment and professional development is hard to turn down.
"Any graduate is offered a job in our health centres and our hospitals,
and we'll work with them to ensure that they have a placement here in the
The North enjoys a reputation of producing some of the best-trained
nurses in the country, who are valued coast-to-coast for their skills and
flexibility. Will its solution to the health care crisis work? Only time
will tell, but for now, the Northwest Territories is determined to play
its part, by ensuring that opportunities do exist for Canada's nursing
1. VNR - RT: 2:20
Dr. Peter Han
3. Exterior/interior shots, nurses at work
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