Help wanted: Nova Scotia has more than 2,100 health-care vacancies

A brand new workplace devoted to hiring health-care employees in Nova Scotia wants to take instant motion to handle staff who really feel overworked and undervalued if it hopes to fill a whole lot of vacancies, say union leaders representing paramedics and nurses within the province.

On a current day, there have been an estimated 2,165 health-care jobs accessible in Nova Scotia, together with 1,086 registered nurses and 27 paramedics, in accordance with numbers offered by the brand new Office of Health Care Professionals Recruitment and EHS, the province’s ambulance service.

Those numbers change day by day. They additionally do not present the complete image, in accordance with Michael Nickerson, enterprise supervisor of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727, which represents paramedics within the province.

Michael Nickerson, president of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 727, says paramedics have ‘disdain’ for his or her working circumstances, together with lengthy days with out meal breaks. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

“We do know that paramedics are leaving the profession altogether or they’re leaving the province to go work in other provinces and go make more money,” mentioned Nickerson, including that he’d prefer to see the brand new workplace handle these points proper off the bat.

“Paramedics need to feel valued and they need to feel appreciated.”

He estimates one other 200 paramedics are on sick depart for bodily or psychological well being causes. That would symbolize about 18 per cent of the paramedic workforce.

Nursing workforce anticipated to shrink

Likewise, Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union, mentioned the numbers do not replicate the various vacancies within the workforce.

On prime of registered nurses, she mentioned there are vacancies for 235 licensed sensible nurses and 12 nurse practitioners.

“To put that in perspective, that’s probably upwards of 30 per cent,” she mentioned.

Hazelton has lengthy advocated for assist in addressing the nursing scarcity, which she mentioned is about to worsen. About 25 per cent of nurses within the province hope to retire inside the subsequent 5 years, she mentioned.

Furthermore, the federal government has by no means surveyed nurses to see why they wish to depart.

“We need to know what we’re dealing with and why before we can address the problem,” she mentioned.

Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union, led a rally in September to attract consideration to the nursing scarcity within the province. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Like paramedics, nurses face frequent extra time. If considered one of their friends calls in sick, they cannot go house till a substitute is discovered to take over. That creates a security problem.

“There’s only so many times you can count on that nurse to do so many extra hours because they get tired and that’s when they get injured,” she mentioned.

Retention a key problem

Nickerson, whose membership shares a lot of considerations with the nurses’ union, mentioned if anybody desires to see change within the workforce, they should discuss to paramedics who’ve been on the job for years.

“There’s a lot of disdain for the company [EHS] among the paramedic ranks, and I think that’s due to the working conditions over the years,” he mentioned.

Nickerson mentioned paramedics usually work 15-hour days with out correct meal breaks. While salaries are vital, so too is the power to have a work-life steadiness.

“We need the employer, and government as well, to acknowledge what they do on the daily basis,” he mentioned.

The Office of Health Care Professionals Recruitment is now working with EHS. In an announcement, the ambulance service mentioned it has established an inside committee taking a look at options.

It has employed 57 paramedics and 6 medical communications officers since January, in comparison with simply 42 new hires in all of final yr. A brand new group of worker orientations is beginning this month. 

The workplace mentioned it hopes to rent above and past the estimated emptiness charge elsewhere within the health-care sector. For instance, it estimates there are 448 persevering with care assistant openings, however it goals to recruit practically 1,000 more employees.

Dr. Kevin Orrell, seen right here, has been tasked with main the brand new Office of Health Care Professionals Recruitment. He met with health-care employees throughout provincial roundtable discussions in September. (Robert Short/CBC)

It has already seen success with medical doctors by altering the funding fashions for some new physicians who had been contemplating leaving, and signing contracts with Nova Scotia medical college students who’re coaching out of province, mentioned Dr. Kevin Orrell, the workplace’s CEO.

During his first day within the House of Assembly, Premier Tim Houston — whose Progressive Conservatives campaigned on fixing the province’s health-care system — acknowledged that his thoughts is on retention as properly.

“I don’t have a target now to share, but I can say we feel the urgency and it’s something I feel personally accountable for,” he instructed reporters Tuesday. 

Hazelton mentioned she is optimistic concerning the new provincial workplace, saying it is the primary time in her profession she’s seen a authorities division devoted to recruitment.

She expects to see a change within the numbers inside the subsequent six months.

“What nurses need to see is something tangible,” she mentioned. “Something that shows them help is on the way.”

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