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'A dire situation': N.B. nurses gather to discuss challenges as shortage plagues province

It’s a common story across the board in the health-care industry -- more nurses are needed.

“We’ve been sounding the alarm bells for a number of years that we would be in the staffing shortage that we’re in currently,” said Paula Douchet, the president for the New Brunswick Nurses Union.

Overall, nurses are needed across New Brunswick. It’s just one of the topics that is front and centre at the New Brunswick Nurses Union's 48th Annual General Meeting this week.

“It’s an absolute big issue,” Douchet said. “I’ve said different times before that even though we are showing numbers of hiring into both our regional health authorities and our long-term care sectors, there’s still upwards of almost 1,000 vacant nurse positions in this province and our workloads are increasing, the patient acuity is increasing, so it is a dire situation that needs to be addressed ASAP.”

Meanwhile, trying to fill the gap, up to 100 nursing seats for New Brunswick students have been added at Beal University in Maine starting in 2023.

“Our accelerated registered nursing degree program can be completed in just 32 months with the first year of classes offered entirely online,” explained Beal University President Sheryl Dewalt.

“Currently our graduates have over an 88 per cent pass rate on the registered nursing licenser exams.”

The provincial government is also offering a $6,000 grant to help offset some of the costs and help ensure that these future nurses return to New Brunswick. 

“This grant will be conditional on the students signing a return to service agreement to work as a registered nurse in New Brunswick for a minimum of one year upon graduation,” said Trevor Holder, the post-secondary education, training and labour minister.

As a whole, the New Brunswick Nurses Union says it’s always positive when steps are taken to get more nurses into the system, adding that right now, there also needs to be a focus on retention as well as recruitment. Top Stories

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