Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce News

Policy Tracker: Filling the Province’s Nursing Schools

Where is this policy/position currently at?

BACKGROUND:

In February 2022, the provincial Ministry of Advanced Education announced an increase of 602 new nursing seats to public post-secondary institutions.1 This move was very timely – in a fall 2021(survey) of more than 3,000 BC nurses by the BC Nurses Union, 68% of all respondents said staffing at their worksite over the last three months had been inadequate, while 74% of respondents said staffing had impacted practice standards. Most worrying, 35% of all nurses said the experience of the pandemic made them more likely to leave the profession in the next two years, with 51% of emergency and ICU nurses saying the same. Of even greater concern is that the proportion of those likely to leave nursing due to the pandemic is highest among those aged 20-29 (42%).2  

This exodus of young nurses, if it occurs, could be even more challenging for our province’s health care system, combined with provincial pre-COVID data that indicates that B.C. would be short by 24,000 nurses by 2029,3 with 22% of all currently employed nurses in B.C. aged 55 or older.4 In short, we face a rapidly aging workforce at the same time as the next generation considers leaving the profession – a double disaster. 

While 602 new seats is a positive start, more can and must be done. For example, Thompson Rivers University received an increase of 10 BScN seats and 15 LPN seats for September 2022, in accordance with the School of Nursing and Population Health’s request. The School of Nursing has the capacity to fill up to 80 total new seats with the proper funding and planning time. In order to meet the province’s current and future nursing shortage, there is a clear need for the provincial government, post-secondary institutions like TRU and health authorities to collaborate more to address the issues required to accommodate the larger number of students that is needed immediately and into the future. 

THE CHAMBER RECOMMENDS: 

That the provincial government collaborate with post-secondary institutions with nursing schools and with provincial health authorities and the first nations health authority to immediately provide both the resources to fill all available seats in nursing school programs in the province’s schools as well as the resources required to expedite the process of opening those seats as soon as possible. 

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The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is situated on the traditional and unceded lands of the Tk'emlups Te Secwepemc within Secwepemc'ulucw, the traditional territory of the Secwepemc people. We are honored to live and work and play on this land and acknowledge the complicated history and humbly move forward in a spirit of collaboration and gratitude.