Funding for specialty nurse seats a positive step to address shortage: BCNU

AS nurse vacancy rates continue to climb and BC’s health care system struggles to meet demands, the BC Nurses’ Union on Monday commended the provincial government for its latest announcement to continue to invest in specialty nurse education opportunities offered at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).

Since 2016, the union has been pressuring government to increase funding for specialty nurse education opportunities. The announcement of the government’s commitment to continue to fund a total of 1,000 seats in BCIT’s specialty nursing program for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years is a welcome update.

“Addressing the provinces’ nurse shortage is a complex challenge and will require attention not only in the way of recruitment and retention strategies, but also in education opportunities, so I am pleased to see our health minister continue to make such a significant investment into the future,” said BCNU President Christine Sorensen. “Specialty nurses provide acute care in many different forms, and their expertise is greatly needed as we see increased patient acuity and complex population needs.”

A direct consequence of the nurse shortage is the chronic reliance on overtime, responsible for keeping BC hospitals staffed. This remains a serious concern for Sorensen, who would like to see more constructive solutions to address the shortage of nurses in the province, as well as a comprehensive health human resources plan that focuses on the future.

A report released last week by the Ministry of Health shows the provincial hospital system has been operating at overcapacity, and that the rate of overcrowding is increasing. Furthermore, the province expects it will need upwards of 25,000 new nurses by 2030 to keep up with health care demands.

“This is a staggering number,” said Sorensen. “In order to meet this target, the focus must be on education and training opportunities, which is why we are glad to hear the government is following through on their commitment to meet BC’s patient and population needs”.