Hannah Rudderham
Hannah Rudderham
February 28, 2020

New Brunswick nursing students need incentives like full-time jobs to stay in-province

New Brunswick’s hospitals are around 400 nurses short | Photo by Marcelo Leal on Unsplash

New Brunswick’s hospitals are around 400 nurses short, with 40 percent ready to retire in the next 5 years, but UNB Fredericton nursing students say they wish full-time jobs were given to students fresh out of nursing school.

“We’re ready to work and we’re eager to work,” Emily McMillan, the UNB student union nurses’ representative, said.

A lot of students choose to move out of New Brunswick after graduation and find nursing work elsewhere due to clinic and bed closures—McMillan plans to make her decision to stay in-province or not after her upcoming Horizon interviews.

But the numbers for new nurses are not coming out of the universities because of the financial challenges involved with training them.

Nursing tuition at UNB is currently $8,411, matching the tuition price of Engineering, but topping programs such as Computer Science, Education and Arts. 

However, combined with the government money, it’s still not enough to afford the expenses to train new nurses.

According to McMillan, the extra costs are necessary, saying she thinks around seven students per clinical instructor is a good number. 

“We have to have that money to be able to hire people because if we don’t, we could have larger clinical groups,” she said. 

It’s not just New Brunswick facing a crisis when it comes to too few nurses—Nova Scotia nurses are working up to 24-hour shifts and being denied vacations due to their shortage, and P.E.I. claims to be up to 150 to 160 vacancies.

According to CBC News, nurses in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Newfoundland are not so happy being in the midst of a shortage themselves with overstaffing issues.

The maritime provinces are facing a massive shortage overall despite having nursing schools such as Cape Breton University, Saint-Xavier University, Dalhousie, and UNB with seemingly popular programs.

CBC News talked to New Brunswick nurses, some of which were studying at UNB Fredericton, who decided to leave the maritime provinces and go to Ottawa for work. The government seems desperate for nurses, but more new nurses are being pushed away due to the lack of stability and not being offered full-time jobs. 

The registered nurses who left now have full-time positions at Ottawa hospitals and clinics. 

“To me, if they’re not going to hire full-time, I don’t really see a [future] change in the nursing shortage,” McMillan said.

The fourth-year student is from Saint John and chose a Fredericton university, but does not see a future in the province if the stability and benefits of full-time can’t be offered. 

McMillan says hiring full-time recent grads “could really be the solution to the shortage.”

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