P.E.I. cuts back guaranteed job offers for nurses

The P.E.I. government says demand for nurses has dropped and it's no longer guaranteeing new nursing graduates a job.

Just 18 students will now be offered automatic jobs in the province when they graduate

Only 18 nursing students will be guaranteed jobs in the province when they graduate. (CBC)

The P.E.I. government is no longer guaranteeing new nursing graduates a job. The province says the demand for nurses has dropped.

Over the last 13 years, Prince Edward Island has accepted every student who applies to the Bachelor of Nursing Sponsorship Program.

It offers all nursing students $4,800 dollars and guaranteed full-time work for two years.

This year, 42 out of a class of 54 new graduates took that offer. But next year, the province is changing the program.

It will still offer the money and the job, but only for 18 students. Acceptance will now be based on the student's grades and their score from an online test.

The province says it doesn't need as many new nurses.

Marney MacRae, manager of recruitment and retention for the Health Department, said there a fewer nurses retiring.

Nursing student Shayna Monaghan worries she'll have to leave the province when she graduates. (CBC)

"We had probably five per cent who have decided to leave," she said.

"So we’ve had less leaving the system, we’ve had the benefit of a large number of students being able to enter this program over the past number of years, so we are in a much better position than we were say, 6 years ago."

Just four years ago, UPEI added a new accelerated nursing program, so it could meet the growing demand for nurses.

The Association of Registered Nurses in the province is concerned that without an incentive, fewer nurses will stay on P.E.I.

"If new grads want to stay here, we think there should be a position available for them, especially given the financial investment to prepare them for that," said Becky Gosbee, executive director.

It’s a concern for Shayna Monaghan. The nursing student said she wonders where she’ll work when she graduates in two years.

"It’s not a matter of like, if we want to stay here anymore. It’s if we can."

The policy will be reviewed each year to make sure it meets the demand for nurses.