Province seeking international nursing grads

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Nurses' union says seats need to be increased to accommodate local waiting list

The head of the province's nurses union says government would be wiser to invest in more nursing seats than pursue international graduates.

"We don't have a lot of experience in regards to internationally educated nurses," said Debbie Forward, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union (NLNU).

Health Minister Jerome Kennedy addresses the 2010 Nursing Leadership conference in St. John's Monday. Looking on were (from left) Keynote Speaker Linda Edgecombe and conference moderator Anita Ludlow. - Photo By Mark Burt/Special to The Telegram.

Health -

The head of the province's nurses union says government would be wiser to invest in more nursing seats than pursue international graduates.

"We don't have a lot of experience in regards to internationally educated nurses," said Debbie Forward, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union (NLNU).

Health Minister Jerome Kennedy told nurses gathered at a conference Monday that the province must recruit more nurses to improve the quality of their lives.

"The negotiations weren't only about money, it was about quality of life. Nurses need time off to go to their children's events ... to plan holidays. The problem with the shortage of nurses was the inability to access that time off in a timely manner," Kennedy told the conference. "So, as we continue to grow the nursing profession to recruit and retain nurses, hopefully your workplace, the quality of your workplace environment will improve and those impediments will hopefully be eliminated. These are the kinds of things we became aware of last year and continue to be aware of."

And one of the ways the province is trying to recruit new nurses is to appeal to international graduates.

"We are currently looking at recruiting international nurses and are actively trying to do that," Kennedy said outside the two-day nursing leadership conference.

Forward noted employers went to India to recruit in January and February, but she said there are some 100-200 qualified potential nursing students from the province who can't get into nursing school here because there are not enough seats.

"We know that if conditions are right, new graduates want to stay here," she said in a phone interview.

While there have been increased seats in recent years, Forward acknowledged it's not simple to accommodate more students.

Besides cost, the physical infrastructure is tight and there is need for more faculty. There are currently 291 nursing students combined admitted each year across three bachelor of nursing sites - one in Corner Brook and two in St. John's.

But if that investment is made, she said the end result will be young people from the province who have more of a liklihood to stay over the long term.

Among doctors who have been recruited from other countries, there is a tendency to move once they get their Canadian licences.

"We probably would have a better chance of keeping Newfoundlanders and Labradorians here than keeping nurses from India," Forward said.

Qualified candidates who don't get into nursing school because there aren't enough seats will either choose another profession or go elsewhere for training, Forward said.

She said the province will have to ensure it is prepared to integrate foreign-trained nurses through recognition of different cultures and language, not only for the nurses that come here, but for all nurses in the system.

"We have to make sure we do everything we can in our power to integrate them in a very positive way," Forward said.

Since government has started recruiting internationally, the number of foreign-trained nurses applying for nursing licences has shot up, according to the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador, the licensing body. At last count it was nearing 150 applicants.

International appliants must provide proof of education and a second language program, as well as their licence in the country they are coming from.

They are granted an interim licence which limits their duties, and have eight months and a limited number of chances to pass the Canadian Registered Nurses exam. If they fail the exam on their first try they lose their interim licence. The association reviews all international education programs and recommends to government areas which have similar requirements to Newfoundland in order to reduce the transition process.

Kennedy signaled Monday he wants to know about difficulties that affect the ability to retain nurses.

Last week, concerns were raised in the media about nurses trying to transfer out of emergency to new positions and not being able to because of the shortage.

"Hopefully, by working with the nurses' union and by working with NAPE and CUPE, who represent the licensed practical nurses, we will be able to address their issues on an ongoing basis," Kennedy told reporters.

He received a chuckle from the crowd during his address when he commented on the volume of e-mails he received from individual nurses during the contract negotiations with the nurses' union.

"I was very impressed with how unified they were as a group," Kennedy said afterwards.

"What I hear - this is anecdotal - the agreement we reached last year satisfied the nurses in terms of monetary issues and we still have to work on some of the other issues such as quality of life ... essentially they reached the goal they had in negotiations which was essentially to get to a stage of Atlantic parity or greater."

During his address, he thanked the nurses for their professionalism and patience and said he is looking forward to hearing their recommendations.

Meanwhile, Kennedy told reporters he isn't aware of anything new in talks with the province's doctors, but noted it's the Treasury Department that's conducting the negotiations. Those negotiations have been contentious with Premier Danny Williams weeks ago describing the demands as "through the roof" and the doctors since then holding media sessions to highlight problems in health care.

But doctors have indicated they too are just seeking Atlantic parity for all doctors.

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Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses, Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canadian Registered Nurses Treasury Department

Geographic location: India, Corner Brook, St. John's Newfoundland

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Bill
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Ms Forward hit the nail right on the head!!! My daughter has been waiting 3 yrs for an opening to train for Nursing but to no avail. No room for her.

  • Ah
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Lots of other universities in Canada to obtain a degree in Nursing from. Crying about the educational system as a failing point is really falling on deaf ears Debbie. This is not a seat issue and you know it. Not very many new grads want to be part of the Union. That is the issue.

  • Pleasant Pat
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Those nurses are so giving and caring.

  • ROBROY
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    The nurses make me sick.All along it was patient care they were complaining about. Now that the LPNs are takng on a much larger and more responsible roll in patient care(which I might add are not being compensated for) The nurses are now looking at the leadership roll. Always looking for reasons for their cause.LPNS are doing meds, injections, dressings,on some floors are charge LPNs This is freeing the nurse for her leadership roll Come on Debbie Forward Grow up its time you looked at the LPNs that dirt under your feet and realize because that the Lpns increase in work load and responsibilities and training to come,the RNs and BNS will slowly erode the need for you guys

  • Nurse
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    I know nurses who are working part time and would love to increase their hours and even go full time. Perhaps they should offer full time positions to any part time nurse to relieve the overtime being forced on the full time staff..

  • Nancy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:28

    I am a General grad '91...I have been working in Houston since 1993. I know of many NF nurses who moved away years ago and sometimes we entertain moving home. We all have friends who stayed in the province so we are well aware of the working conditions that nurses have to endure. Moving home to work would be like going backwards....scheduling demands, overtime requirements, short-staffing and the abscence of RNA's and PCA's to perform non-nursing duties. I do believe the best thing the province can do is to increase seats to educate new nurses. It is unfortunate that the diploma schools were closed as this would not be an issue. NF is not the only place recruiting internationally....US hospitals spend large amounts of money to entice foreign nurses....it is very competitve and NF is a little fish in a big pond. This is not the answer.

  • Nancy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    ROBROY.....I assume you are an LPN. I think it is best if the province did utilize the LPNs more. ALthough the role of the RN and LPN have different responsibilities, if working under the supervision of RNs, both LPNs and RNAs can be valued members of the healthcare team. This would alleviate staffing issues and ultimately result in improved patient outcomes. On my unit we the PCAs and LPNs perform all ADLs, vital signs, lab draws and a variety of other tasks. This allows the RNs to carry out the duties only they can do. In the end the staff are less stressed and the patients receive better care. I do think you are a little hostile but this may be directly related to your own work experience. All members of the health care team are necessary to maintaining standards of care.

  • nalcor air H'ambulance
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    The more things move forward, the more they go backward on a go forward basis. These rulers are use to splittin hairs between say,sever pain and chronic pain. Would you expect anything less from this crowd. I heard the finance minister on CBC this morning speak about the doctors and he sounded like an old recording from a script wrote about 4 years proir. I can almost tell anyone what a member will say before they are even interviewed. If only they would apply the same attitude, language and mandate about say, the striking 14 workers on the burin. maybe we would be getting some where, or at least get the cart in drive.

  • M
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Not that i'm against foreign RNs coming to this province, but i think that allowing someone to work on an interim licence, for up to 8 months is way too long a period of time. Just how do you know for sure that the person applying for an RN job, from another country, is actually an RN? Documents HAVE been forged in the past, back when a person didn't have to write the Canadian RN exams. Been there, worked with an imposter, and i don't want to even hear tell of a repeat.

    If an RN wants to work in this province, then have the Canadian RN exam done before you ever even think about practising here. If i'm not mistaken, you actually have to write/pass your American RN licence, before being allowed to work as an RN in that country. What's going on here? Some sort of regression? Or is the USA better able to protect it's people better, by assuring that those who claim to be RNs are actually RNs, before they touch a patient?

  • amazed
    July 02, 2010 - 13:19

    Robroy;
    You will not find an LPN in an ICU, ER, or OR as the work is WAY beyond their scope.
    You fail.

  • will
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    I was very impressed with how unified they were as a group, Kennedy said afterwards. ------Intriguing! If ONLY you foresaw that during negotiations, instead of trying to be 'Mr. Big and 'Mr. Bigger'.....you'd have saved a lot of face and garnered some semblance of respect. Instead you still want to dictate what is 'best for all concerned'.....Just like St. Anthony's Air Ambulance....I wonder what size hat you wear these days.....

  • Bill
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Ms Forward hit the nail right on the head!!! My daughter has been waiting 3 yrs for an opening to train for Nursing but to no avail. No room for her.

  • Ah
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Lots of other universities in Canada to obtain a degree in Nursing from. Crying about the educational system as a failing point is really falling on deaf ears Debbie. This is not a seat issue and you know it. Not very many new grads want to be part of the Union. That is the issue.

  • Pleasant Pat
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Those nurses are so giving and caring.

  • ROBROY
    July 01, 2010 - 20:20

    The nurses make me sick.All along it was patient care they were complaining about. Now that the LPNs are takng on a much larger and more responsible roll in patient care(which I might add are not being compensated for) The nurses are now looking at the leadership roll. Always looking for reasons for their cause.LPNS are doing meds, injections, dressings,on some floors are charge LPNs This is freeing the nurse for her leadership roll Come on Debbie Forward Grow up its time you looked at the LPNs that dirt under your feet and realize because that the Lpns increase in work load and responsibilities and training to come,the RNs and BNS will slowly erode the need for you guys

  • Nurse
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    I know nurses who are working part time and would love to increase their hours and even go full time. Perhaps they should offer full time positions to any part time nurse to relieve the overtime being forced on the full time staff..

  • Nancy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:16

    I am a General grad '91...I have been working in Houston since 1993. I know of many NF nurses who moved away years ago and sometimes we entertain moving home. We all have friends who stayed in the province so we are well aware of the working conditions that nurses have to endure. Moving home to work would be like going backwards....scheduling demands, overtime requirements, short-staffing and the abscence of RNA's and PCA's to perform non-nursing duties. I do believe the best thing the province can do is to increase seats to educate new nurses. It is unfortunate that the diploma schools were closed as this would not be an issue. NF is not the only place recruiting internationally....US hospitals spend large amounts of money to entice foreign nurses....it is very competitve and NF is a little fish in a big pond. This is not the answer.

  • Nancy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:12

    ROBROY.....I assume you are an LPN. I think it is best if the province did utilize the LPNs more. ALthough the role of the RN and LPN have different responsibilities, if working under the supervision of RNs, both LPNs and RNAs can be valued members of the healthcare team. This would alleviate staffing issues and ultimately result in improved patient outcomes. On my unit we the PCAs and LPNs perform all ADLs, vital signs, lab draws and a variety of other tasks. This allows the RNs to carry out the duties only they can do. In the end the staff are less stressed and the patients receive better care. I do think you are a little hostile but this may be directly related to your own work experience. All members of the health care team are necessary to maintaining standards of care.

  • nalcor air H'ambulance
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    The more things move forward, the more they go backward on a go forward basis. These rulers are use to splittin hairs between say,sever pain and chronic pain. Would you expect anything less from this crowd. I heard the finance minister on CBC this morning speak about the doctors and he sounded like an old recording from a script wrote about 4 years proir. I can almost tell anyone what a member will say before they are even interviewed. If only they would apply the same attitude, language and mandate about say, the striking 14 workers on the burin. maybe we would be getting some where, or at least get the cart in drive.

  • M
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Not that i'm against foreign RNs coming to this province, but i think that allowing someone to work on an interim licence, for up to 8 months is way too long a period of time. Just how do you know for sure that the person applying for an RN job, from another country, is actually an RN? Documents HAVE been forged in the past, back when a person didn't have to write the Canadian RN exams. Been there, worked with an imposter, and i don't want to even hear tell of a repeat.

    If an RN wants to work in this province, then have the Canadian RN exam done before you ever even think about practising here. If i'm not mistaken, you actually have to write/pass your American RN licence, before being allowed to work as an RN in that country. What's going on here? Some sort of regression? Or is the USA better able to protect it's people better, by assuring that those who claim to be RNs are actually RNs, before they touch a patient?

  • amazed
    July 01, 2010 - 20:00

    Robroy;
    You will not find an LPN in an ICU, ER, or OR as the work is WAY beyond their scope.
    You fail.

  • will
    July 01, 2010 - 19:57

    I was very impressed with how unified they were as a group, Kennedy said afterwards. ------Intriguing! If ONLY you foresaw that during negotiations, instead of trying to be 'Mr. Big and 'Mr. Bigger'.....you'd have saved a lot of face and garnered some semblance of respect. Instead you still want to dictate what is 'best for all concerned'.....Just like St. Anthony's Air Ambulance....I wonder what size hat you wear these days.....