Region Faces Nursing Shortage

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By Ian Shalapata

(WINDSOR, ON) – On the heels of laying off 126 registered nurses, it is now projected that there will be a local shortage of nurses within the next five years. The root of the issue stems from pending retirements of over 20% of the current nursing staff.

According to data from the CBC, 39.5% of RNs and RPNs at Hotel-Dieu are over the age of 55 while that number is almost 16% for RNs at Windsor Regional. For the region as a whole, 22.2% of nurses are aged 55 or older.

To offset the losses, there are plans to request retiring nurses to work longer by taking part-time or casual hours. However, that short-sighted, temporary fix creates a second problem.

Newly graduated nurses often cannot find fulltime employment in this area so end up leaving for jobs elsewhere. As a result, they seldom, if ever, return to Windsor-Essex, depriving the local system of an influx to cover retirements.

There are also fewer students entering post-secondary nursing programs, likely due to the poor job prospects.

There is also the well-worn trek to work at US-based hospitals where the pay is higher and graduating students are recruited to fulltime work right away.

Janice Kaffer, CEO of Hotel-Dieu Grace, hopes new nurses would, instead, put their lives on hold and take casual positions in the event a fulltime position comes open.