RNU in Action

Addressing Recruitment and Retention

April 11, 2022

On March 1, 2022, RNU President Yvette Coffey joined Premier Furey and Minister Haggie at a press conference to discuss nursing and the significant challenges facing RNU members.

A Think Tank event and several other measures focused on recruitment and retention were announced.

You can watch the press conference here.

As Yvette noted in her remarks, this is a pivotal time for nursing in our province and country.

Well before COVID-19, RNU members were under extreme stress due to workload expectations and staffing shortages. The pandemic has not only increased workload, it has led RNs and NPs to report worsening mental health and high rates of burnout.

There are more than 600 vacant RN positions in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The measures announced in March will not fix all the challenges facing nursing or bring immediate change.

However, RNU is optimistic it will help put us on the right path forward.

Many of the projects will inform long-term strategies for recruitment and retention. While long-term planning is important, we know members need relief and hope right now.

RNU will build from the projects announced last month and keep pushing for short term measures to address recruitment and retention through the Think Tank, which you can read about here.

Your union has been steadfast in pushing government to act. In addition to the measures outlined below, our advocacy work also led to a 25% increase to seats at the schools of nursing and the creation of a new a government office dedicated to the recruitment and retention of health professionals.

We look forward to working with the new Assistant Deputy Minister of this office to continue efforts to create healthier workplaces, address violence in health care, and stabilize the health workforce.

Workforce Research – A request for proposals (RFP) has been issued to conduct workforce research (this essentially means an organization will be hired to complete the work). This research will examine barriers to accepting permanent employment, approaches to improve work-life balance, and career preferences and expectations of our members and the future nursing workforce.  It will identify best practices to address the issues the workforce and workplaces are facing. Findings will inform collective bargaining and identify recommendations on how NL can meet the desires of the registered nursing workforce into the future. The project will analyze workforce trends and include focus groups with nursing students and early to late career RNs and NPs.  This work will be completed by an outside consultant and is expected to begin this spring.

Health Human Resources Plan – RNU has been calling loudly for a health human resources plan. Government has committed $350,000 to finally develop one. An RFP to complete this work was issued last month. The plan will improve forecasting of health care staffing needs for all health care providers.  The plan will support collecting and sharing better data, so that future needs can be predicted and evidence-based strategies can be developed to address recruitment and retention and meet the health care challenges facing communities. This work will include a jurisdictional scan and extensive engagement with stakeholders.

Core Staffing Review – After a series of delays related to the pandemic, the RFP to conduct a core staffing review has been issued.  The review will span the continuum of care and occur at select sites across the four Regional Health Authorities. The purpose of this review is to analyze current core staffing methods and provide recommendations and actions for improvement. The analysis will outline the impact of current staffing levels and models on patient care and patient outcomes.  It will include a detailed analysis of client factors, staffing factors and organizational factors that contribute to the workload of registered nurses and the associated impact on client, staffing and organizational outcomes.

Internationally Educated Nurse Bursary – The province, government has allocated $420,000 for the implementation of an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) Bursary Program to support up to 42 individuals to complete the IEN Bridging Program offered by the Centre for Nursing Studies. The program, which is followed by a four-month on-site practical component, generally takes 12-18 months to complete and allows internationally educated nurses to address any gaps that may have been identified in their national assessment which evaluates their credentials against Canadian standards for nursing.

New Provincial Office for Recruitment and Retention – For the first time, our province will have a government office dedicated to the recruitment and retention of health professionals. A new Assistant Deputy Minister for this office is currently being hired and its establishment within the Department of Health and Community Services will follow in short order. We look forward to working with officials from this office to continue efforts to create healthier workplaces, address violence in health care, and stabilize the health workforce.

Marketing Recruitment Campaign – A recruitment campaign targeting nurses and other providers to move to Newfoundland and Labrador will launch this spring