More northern nursing programs, placements needed: RNAO report

A new report has come up with 23 recommendations on how to alleviate a nursing shortage in rural and northern parts of Ontario.

Report identifies particular need for more Francophone and aboriginal nurses

A report from Ontario's nursing association suggests more Francophone and aboriginal nurses are needed to better serve those population groups. (CBC)
One in five nurse practitioner jobs in Northern Ontario are vacant according to a report from the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario. We spoke with Sudbury nurse practitioner Jennifer Clement about why clinics like hers cant keep nurses here.

A new report has come up with 23 recommendations on how to alleviate a nursing shortage in rural and northern parts of Ontario

The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario spent a year speaking with hundreds of nurses across northern Ontario and in rural communities around the province.

The report recommends ways to convince more nurses to come — and stay — in northern and rural communities.

Many of the recommendations focus on providing more northern nursing education programs and placing more students in remote communities with the help of travel grants.

Establishing the Northern Ontario School of Medicine helped address the doctor shortage, and the same could work for nurses, said Louise Paquette, Chief Executive Officer with the Northeast Local Health Integration Network.

"We know the success we've had with the medical school. That's demonstrated that we can grow our own. And when we grow our own we solve our problems."

More Franophone, aboriginal nurses needed

Putting nurses through northern schools isn't enough, said Paul Andre Gauthier, president of the Clinical Nurse Specialist Association of Ontario.

Paul Andre Gauthier is president of the Clinical Nurse Specialist Association of Ontario. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

"In northern Ontario, if they don't have full-time jobs, the students when they graduate, they move away."

In northeastern Ontario, only 59 per cent of nurses are full-time. The report said that should be increased to at least 70 per cent.

The report also suggested more Francophone and aboriginal people must become nurses to better serve the needs of those populations.

There is a big need in the northeast for nurses who understand French and First Nations culture and language, and without them, the quality of care for these groups declines, Gauthier said.

"If the person does not understand what they are talking about, then the assessment will be wrong. The diagnosis will be wrong and the treatment also will be wrong and that's highly dangerous," Gauthier said.


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