A wide body of literature has been written in regards to the current state of nursing in Canada, including the shortage of available nurses. It is important to address some of the most relevant articles in order to better understand the significance of this problem and its impact on patient care throughout the Canadian healthcare system. For example, an article by Murphy et.al (2012) addresses the importance of human resources in planning to prevent nursing shortages in healthcare organizations. The article utilized a simulation model and a baseline scenario in order to predict the extent of the nursing shortage in Canada, which is estimated to be 60,000 or more persons over the next decade (Murphy et.al, 2012). The article also supports the belief that strategies may be developed to reduce these statistics and to prevent significant shortages over time (Murphy et.al, 2012).
An article by Duckett et.al (2012) considers the value of scenario-based planning in order to predict patient needs throughout Canada in the coming years, and in particular, Alberta. This article explores the dimensions of workforce planning in an effort to produce viable outcomes, using SAP to develop models for consideration (Duckett et.al, 2012). The study results indicate that there are significant concerns regarding Alberta’s ability to meet future demand with its current nursing workforce, and that existing models of care will not have sufficient care providers in place to carry out these models (Duckett et.al, 2012). The solution is to utilize skillsets more effectively and to recognize that changes in policy might be effective in supporting new directives for healthcare organizations throughout Alberta (Duckett et.al, 2012).
An article by Regan et.al (2009) addresses the importance of areas in education that are sorely lacking in Canada that contribute to the nursing shortage. The concept of “blind spots” play a role in reducing the availability of qualified nurses for available positions and in providing potential nurses with the level of education that is necessary to support high quality patient care and treatment (Regan et.al, 2009). Many nurses in leadership positions believe that educational institutions are falling short in their efforts to provide nurses for open positions; therefore, it is essential to address these concerns in a manner that is consistent with expanding educational opportunities for nurses that are comprehensive and appropriate for the type of positions that are available for practicing nurses (Regan et.al, 2009).
An article by DiCenso et.al (2010) considers the role of advanced practice nurses and the shortage of qualified candidates for available positions in Canada. This article notes that there is disconnect between nursing roles and the ability to exercise effective outcomes, such as advanced practice nurses, thereby creating an environment that has limited the availability of knowledgeable and experienced nurses to fill these positions (DiCenso et.al, 2010). In this context, it is observed that nurses are not able to transition into these roles because of a lack of understanding of their scope of responsibility; therefore, additional measures must be considered that support effective outcomes in order to reach recruitment goals and to fill vacant positions in an effective manner (DiCenso et.al, 2010).
From an economic perspective, an article by Buhr (2010) addresses the importance of nurses from other countries and their migration to fill positions in Canada. Questions may arise regarding the level of education received in another country and whether or not nurses from foreign countries will earn the same wage as native Canadians (Buhr, 2010). As a result, it is likely that many nurses in Canada from other countries will not be paid at the same level as their Canadian colleagues, which may pose a problem when attempting to fill available nursing positions, particularly when shortages occur (Buhr, 2010). These circumstances may play a role in further damaging the integrity of the nursing profession and the ability to fill positions as necessary (Buhr, 2010).
In Canada, there is a significant need to develop new opportunities for education that will enhance current objectives and support the development of new perspectives that will enable nurses to fill available positions (Morin, 2011). However, until this occurs, it is necessary to recognize the need for enhancements in current education strategies so that organizations are effectively prepared to manage the tasks associated with filling nursing positions and in preventing additional shortages (Morin, 2011). This article supports the demand for additional evaluations in regards to current educational endeavors and to recognize gaps in education that may lead to nursing shortages over the long term (Morin, 2011).
Due to the challenging nature of the nursing shortage in Canada, there is a strong need to address the concerns associated with long-term care, as these areas often lack sufficient nurses to fill available positions (Hirschfeld, 2009). Long-term care requires an approach that will combat the current nursing shortage and that will address the concerns associated with lack of care and treatment for patients in long-term care facilities because nurses are not available to support these objectives (Hirschfeld, 2009). These conditions are important because they have a strong impact on the expansion of long-term care as populations grow older and live longer than ever before (Hirschfeld, 2009).
An article by Lalonde et.al (2013) addresses the importance of developing strategies to expand educational opportunities for Canadian nurses so that they are able to be effective contributors to nursing practice. Education also plays a critical role in rural areas, particularly where qualified nurses are less available than in urban and metropolitan areas (Lalonde et.al, 2013). The contributions provided by organizations must demonstrate the importance of new approaches to education, particularly for nurses who might establish careers in rural or remote areas where skilled nurses are sorely lacking (Lalonde et.al, 2013). These efforts will support ongoing efforts to improve patient care and wellbeing by reducing nursing shortages in areas where there are limited numbers of nurses currently available to fill open positions (Lalonde et.al, 2013).
In Canada, there are considerable issues related to the need for registered nurses, as a shortage makes it difficult to obtain qualified candidates (Harris et.al, 2013). Therefore, the qualifications of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) have become increasingly relevant in a nation where the nursing shortage is difficult to manage and may compromise the quality of care that is provided to many patients (Harris et.al, 2013). It is important for nurses throughout Canada to also exercise mobility as necessary to obtain greater job opportunities in other areas, but that trends have been shifting in this area to also include an expansion of LPNs to fill some positions where an RN is not necessarily required (Harris et.al, 2013). These contributions are necessary to ensure that the quality of patient care is not compromised by nursing shortages in different areas (Harris et.al, 2013).
Finally, an article by McGillis Hall et.al (2009) considers the importance of nurses who leave Canada and migrate to the United States and the impact of these conditions on the nursing shortage and overall patient wellbeing. These conditions demonstrate that when nurses leave Canada, there is an expanded need to address such areas as workforce retention and other factors so that nurses will be more likely to remain in Canada for the duration of their nursing careers (McGillis Hall et.al, 2009). These conditions will likely support the ability to reduce the nursing shortage and to provide a greater population of nurses within Canada to fill available positions (McGillis Hall et.al, 2009).
Buhr, K.J. (2010). Do immigrant nurses in Canada see a wage penalty? An empirical study. Business Economics, 45, 210-223.
DiCenso, A., Bryant-Lukosius, D., Martin-Misener, R., Donald, F., Abelson, J., Bourgeault, I., Kilpatrick, K., Carter, N., Kaasalainen, S., and Harbman, P. (2010). Factors enabling advanced practice nursing role integration in Canada. Nursing Leadership, 23, 211-238.
Duckett, S., Bloom, J., and Robertson, A. (2012). Planning to meet the need care challenge in Alberta, Canada. The International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 27, e186-e196.
Harris, A., McGilllis Hall, L., Price, S., Lalonde, M., Andrews, G., and MacDonald-Rencz, S. (2013). LPN perspectives of factors that affect nurse mobility in Canada. Nursing Leadership, 26, 70-78.
Hirschfeld, M.J. (2009). Accepting responsibility for long-term care – a paradox in times of a global nursing shortage? Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 41(1), 104-111.
Lalonde, M., McGillis Hall, L., Price, S., Andrews, G., Harris, A., and MacDonald-Rencz, S. (2013). Support and access for nursing continuing education in Canadian work environments. Nursing Leadership, 26, 51-60.
McGillis Hall, L., Pink, G.H., Jones, C.B., Leatt, P., Gates, M., and Peterson, J. (2009). Is the grass any greener? Canada to United States of America nurse migration. International Nursing Review, 56(2), 198-205.
Morin, K.H. (2011). Worldwide standards for nursing education: one answer to a critical need. Journal of Nursing Education, 50(7), 363-364.
Murphy, G.T., Birch, S., MacKenzie, A., Alder, R., Lethbridge, L., and Little, L. (2012). Eliminating the shortage of registered nurses in Canada: an exercise in applied needs-based planning. Health Policy, 105(2), 192-202.
Regan, S., Thorne, S., and Mildon, B. (2009). Uncovering blind spots in education and practice leadership: towards a collaborative response to the nurse shortage. Nursing Leadership (Toronto Ontario), 22(2), 30-40.