Green MLA calls for nurse training upgrade program

As P.E.I. deals with a shortage of nurses, Green Party MLA Trish Altass is calling on the province to introduce a new training program.

Trish Altass would like to see P.E.I. introduce a program similar to one planned in New Brunswick

Green MLA Trish Altass is calling on the P.E.I. government to introduce a nurse training program similar to one announced in New Brunswick. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. )

As P.E.I. deals with a shortage of nurses, Green Party MLA Trish Altass is calling on the province to introduce a training program similar to one planned for New Brunswick that would help nurses upgrade their certifications more rapidly.

The New Brunswick government recently announced it will fund a program to allow Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) to upgrade their training to become Registered Nurses (RNs). 

"This program will allow LPNs to be certified as RNs in two years, rather than needing to go through the full four years of training that involves repeating material covered in the LPN  training and experience," Altass said. 

Altass said she has heard from LPNs on P.E.I. who would like to see a similar program here. In question period Wednesday, she asked Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward if it is something he would implement. 

Aylward did not make any commitments, but he agreed the program is an interesting idea and something he'd look into.

Province working on other initiatives

While he said the training offered in New Brunswick is an excellent program, Aylward also said he thinks it's important to "look internally" for the best local solutions.

Aylward acknowledged the "serious issue" of a shortage of nurses on P.E.I. — but said progress is being made. 

He noted the success of a nursing recruitment incentive program introduced by the province last year. 

Minister of Health and Wellness James Aylward said his department is working to recruit and retain nurses. (Legislative Assembly of P.E.I. )

"Since that program was put in place in 2018, Health PEI was able to successfully recruit 50 new nurses," Aylward said. 

"What we're doing as a new government is working over and above that, and moving forward with new initiatives."

Those new initiatives, he said, include consultations with the P.E.I. nurses' union, as well as plans to discuss with the nursing school at UPEI the possibility of increasing enrolment there. 

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