New nursing program guide throws baby out with bathwater


The new provincial guidelines for a successful graduate nursing mentorship program have an undoubtedly noble purpose, given the nursing shortages the province is experiencing during our time of greatest need. A plan to shorten graduate nurses to full-time jobs appears to be exactly what the doctor ordered.

But, like many things planned from the inner city by downtown Toronto bureaucrats, while the new guidelines may work well in a big city hospital, they are the kiss of doom for small rural health centers. like the one serving Manitoulin. The new guidelines will throw nurses away, so to speak, drastically reducing their mentorship.

Now, while this might work reasonably well in a high-volume setting where a nurse would likely stay in a practice line for the duration of their career, a nurse in a rural hospital becomes something of a jack-of-all-trades, and it takes a lot of time, dedication and mentorship for on-the-job training to be successful.

Even more damning among the new changes is the requirement for any participating hospital to offer the graduate nurse they mentored a full-time job upon completion of the program. In the unionized environment of most hospitals, this is a challenge; for small rural hospitals, this challenge becomes insurmountable.

Indeed, at a time when rural hospitals and other health organizations find it increasingly difficult to recruit nurses, the province has chosen to effectively shut down a program that has proven to be very effective in doing just that.

This short-sighted decision will particularly affect northern and rural health centers, such as our own Manitoulin health center. This is a surprising oversight on the part of a government whose greatest caucus strength lies in the very rural ridings of the province, which will bear the brunt of the negative consequences of these changes.

The Ford government, facing a provincial election in the coming months, would be well advised to rethink its changes to the graduate nurse recruiting program, unless perhaps it prefers to leave those necessary decisions to its successors.

About Irene J. O'Donnell

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