Nursing Shortage in Canada


Running Head: Nursing Shortage in Canada


Nursing Shortage in Canada.


NSE 112


January 27,2004




Nursing is one of the noblest and most humanistic professions in the world. Apart from being a highly responsible and noble profession, nursing requires lots of time, dedication, patience, sacrifice, love and care for the clients. As a profession nursing went through a complex way to gain a right to be considered a profession and its professional independence. Nurses are health professionals with a unique scope of skills and knowledge that is distinct from, although complementary to, medical practice.


Modern RNs are no any longer white-coated assistants of powerful doctors. Instead, they are the providers, directors, managers, and coordinators of complex systems of care. Nursing requires a great deal of maturity, empathy, dedication and commitment. In other words, it is the backbone of the healthcare industry. Although nursing is crucial in the contemporary health care system, it remains a profession in crisis due to the increasing shortage of nurses, which is becoming a major problem in Canada and other developed countries. Unlike most workers, nurses are responsible for people’s lives daily. They are often in situations where a slight change in a patient’s condition can lead to death if it goes unnoticed. Therefore, the nursing shortage may undermine the Canadian healthcare system if not resolved. According to Dr. Stratton, a senior vice president of American Hospital Association, some of the reasons for this shortage include: expanding career opportunities for women and increasing demands on an aging nursing workplace, as well as the high stress of the profession. Some of the other issues are: low image of the profession, a belief that salaries are inadequate, lack of long-term human resource planning (Mclntosh, Ambrose, 2002).


Today, the opportunities for women outside nursing have expanded and fewer of them are becoming nurses, since the economy has also left the door open for women to explore other trades and professions. “Canada will need at least ten thousand nursing graduates each year through two thousand eleven to meet its future needs but is currently graduating only half that number”, states Susan Trossman in Nevada RNformation journal. The number of young women entering the RN workplace has declined. It has resulted in a gradual increasing of the average age of nurses. This aging will increase over the next decade and after that the nursing workplace will be even smaller when aging nurses retire (Trossman, 2003).


A report released recently by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reveals that there are now 70 percent more nurses aged 50 and over, than aged 35 and under. The average age of Canadian nurses is 44.2 years. According to CIHI, the recent small increase in nursing school enrolments will not keep pace with our growing and aging population. In addition, the current nursing shortage will accelerate even more with the coming wave of retirement from nursing ranks (Silas, 2003).


Nursing has experienced shortages many times but this shortage is worst for many reasons. One of these reasons is aging population. The Baby Boomers Generation will retire and rely on appropriate and high quality health services. The older population is aging and more individuals survive to the age of ninety and older. This older population has a higher incidence of chronic diseases; therefore, the need for providing good heath care increases. One of the strongest indicators of care the patient receives is when the hospital assigns each client a primary nurse to oversee his or her care. With a shortage of nurses in Canadian hospitals such a nurse may not be available in every hospital or long term facility.


Another reason that draws professionals out of nursing is the high stress and wear out that they experience. The shortage increases nurses’ overload such as overtimes, reduced days-off and decreased nurse-client ratio, which leads to fatigue and burn out of nurses. Many nurses report job dissatisfaction and plan on leaving a profession, has been found in the study completed by the American Nurses Association in 2001 (Mclntosh, Ambrose, 2002).


“Every day a nurse confronts stark suffering, grief and death as few other people do. Many nursing tasks are mundane and unrewarding. Many are, by normal standards distressful and disgusting. Others are