Northern Health Works on Increasing Nursing Numbers
Prince George, B.C.- Northern Health is making progress in filling the extra nursing positions recently approved by the Provincial Government, but there is still much to be done.
The announcement last month launched an ambitious recruitment plan to fill 1643 nursing positions across BC. About 100 of those nursing positions were allotted to Northern Health.
Northern Health CEO Cathy Ulrich says they are making progress towards those numbers “We have that work underway, we have filled about half of the positions, about 35-38 of those have been filled by external hires and casual employees into full time regular positions. The rest were filled internally which leaves a vacancy behind them that we are working on.”
There is still lots of opportunity for employment says Ulrich “We’re having discussions with students at UNBC about the opportunities that are available to them as they come to the end of their fourth year, and what will be available to them across the north. The BCNU has also been canvassing any casual nurses they are aware of, of where their interests are in the province in terms of employment and that’s been helpful to us. Then there’s the usual type of recruitment that we do in British Columbia as well as outside British Columbia.”
Nurses are in demand as many already working get closer to retirement. To the east is Alberta, where slowdowns in the oil industry mean slowdowns in what were booming communities like Fort McMurray. “Alberta isn’t typically where we’ve gone in the past ( to find recruits) ” says Ulrich “It is kind of a new market to go and pursue nursing staff. I don’t think we have felt the full impact of the changes in Alberta yet, but I think over the next year there is potential ( to seek recruits.)
There are just about 6 weeks left for the Province to achieve its goal of filling all 1643 positions by the end of March. According to the BCNU, there are nearly 7,000 nurses in B.C. who are working as casuals. The BC Nurses Union has called on those casuals to apply for full time positions.