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Better salaries and an aging population encourage nursing grads to stay in the province

Graduates of the bachelor of nursing (collaborative) program during the May convocation in St. John’s.

By Michelle Osmond

Ninety per cent of recent nursing graduates are staying in Newfoundland and Labrador. According to the Department of Health and Community Services, of the 197 graduates from the Bachelor of Nursing (Collaborative) Program in May 2010, 176 of them have been offered jobs in the province with the four regional health authorities. That’s a jump of 25 per cent from 2003 when 65 per cent of nursing graduates stayed in the province. The graduates are from the Memorial University School of Nursing, the Centre for Nursing Studies and the Western Region School of Nursing.

Nearly all of the new graduates were recipients of the provincial government’s BN Bursary program – a program that makes bursaries available to third and fourth year nursing students and fast track students who enter into a one-year return-in-service agreement with a regional health authority in the province.
Dr. Judy McFetridge-Durdle is the Director of the School of Nursing at Memorial University. She thinks this increase is a result of a number of other factors, as well.

“Eighty-eight to 90 per cent of our students are from Newfoundland and Labrador and most of them look for jobs in the province first before going abroad,” she said. “Given the aging population and impending nursing retirements in Newfoundland and Labrador, I think the demand for nursing graduates will continue to increase across all four regional health authorities. Given the now competitive nursing salaries and benefits here, I also believe that if offered jobs, most of our graduates will continue to stay in this province after graduation.”

Jennifer Milmine is one graduate who stayed. She earned her bachelor in nursing degree this past spring and is now working in Clarenville. She says the main reasons she stayed in the province were family and better working conditions including competitive salaries. “Staying in Newfoundland and having a permanent, full-time position is wonderful. It’s great to be able to stay home and have enough money to live on, especially as a single mom.”

“The Memorial University School of Nursing is committed to meeting the increasing need for nurses in the province,” noted Dr. McFetridge-Durdle. “In 2010, we had a record number of applicants. However, due to constraints imposed by lack of space, we are limited to 85 new student admissions to our Bachelor of Nursing (Collaborative) Program each year. Our goal is to look at creative ways to expand our programs in the near future. We are also exploring ways to create more opportunities for students to practice in rural areas as part of their nursing education.”

The School of Nursing offers a Bachelor of Nursing (Collaborative) Program, the Bachelor of Nursing (Post-RN) Program and the Master of Nursing Program (thesis, practicum and nurse practitioner options). The Bachelor of Nursing (Collaborative) and the Bachelor of Nursing (Post-RN) programs are accredited to 2015 by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN). This seven-year award is the highest award given to schools of nursing in Canada.