New nurses struggle to find jobs in Alberta, union says

New nursing grads say they’re having a tough time finding permanent work in Alberta.

AHS workforce transformation blamed for creating fewer opportunities for registered nurses

New nursing grads say they’re having a tough time finding permanent work in Alberta.

Maggie Danko, who graduated from the University of Alberta in the spring, said the number of jobs posted by Alberta Health Services (AHS) dropped dramatically in March, leaving her and her classmates without permanent full-time jobs.

"It was stressful not knowing whether I was going to have a job,” said Danko.

"Our instructors at school started telling us you got to get something on your resume that really stands out because the job market's not very good. It all turned really suddenly."

After submitting 200 applications — mostly for temporary jobs — Danko landed a position covering a maternity leave.

United Nurses of Alberta spokeswoman Karen Craik blames a so-called workforce transformation underway at AHS.

"They're saying we don't require our professional nurses anymore, we're going to replace with health-care aides,” she said.

“It’s a detriment to health care and it’s not going to help new grads find work.”

But Deb Gordon, the chief nursing and health professions officer at AHS, said hundreds of jobs continue to be posted every week.

In fact AHS has hired 500 more nurses this year over last, she said.

But according to Craik, many of those positions are part-time or casual.

As a result, new nurses are considering moving out of Alberta, she said.

"They're looking again at going to different provinces and maybe doing travel nursing,” she said.

Craik said Alberta has lost 200 full-time RN positions since last summer and she expects another 1,000 could be cut over the next two years.

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