Ryerson supports campaign for more nurses

Marisa Moore, third-year nursing student at Ryerson University, is worried about her future job prospects (Leslie Walker/ The Ryersonian)

Marisa Moore, third-year nursing student at Ryerson University, is worried about her future job prospects (Leslie Walker/ The Ryersonian)

Ontario needs more nurses in its hospitals and Ryerson’s nursing students are prepared to meet that demand.

The Ontario Nursing Association’s “More Nurses” campaign launched at the beginning of February. It’s a response to a recent decline of registered nurses (RNs) and an increase in registered practical nurses (RPNs) because of lower hospital budgets.

The multimedia campaign consists of a website, on-line ads, and a television commercial now airing across of the province.

Ryerson’s associate director for the collaborative nursing program, Nancy Purdy says that the program hasn’t been affected by the campaign or decline of RNs in hospitals. She said that the goal of the program is not just to teach, but also to prepare the students for networking and job searches.

“The number of students applying to this program is always growing, regardless of any changes in the field,” Purdy said. “Some people don’t believe there is a shortage, but by 2022, there is a prediction to have a shortage of 60,000 nurses.”

The reason that Ryerson pushes for a degree in nursing is because there is a need for more education to keep up with the complex health-care system.

“I think this is going to be temporary, I know the jobs are there if the grads are willing to go elsewhere,” Purdy said. “Once the economy comes out of the slump, I believe that the jobs will be plentiful everywhere.”

Purdy says that a survey of Ryerson nursing graduates in 2013 shows that 93 per cent of graduates were employed within four months of graduation. Seventy-six per cent of these jobs were full-time.

But a study released on March 6 on the ONA website states that patient care suffers in  Ontario hospitals.

Registered nurses at the Rouge Valley Hospital, just east of Toronto, are unable to provide proper patient care because they are over-worked.

As a result, members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) rallied at Queen’s Park on March 19 to ask the government to hire more nurses to improve patient care.

Marisa Moore, a third-year nursing student said that she wishes she took an RPN course to start out because of the lack of RN jobs. “You can always bridge over after,” she says.

“Everyone says ‘good for you, nursing is a great program’ and (is) advocating for us, but I think with the lowered budgets, we are all scared we won’t get jobs.”

The starting wage for RNs in Ontario is about $30 an hour while a RPN in Toronto makes about $22 an hour. Statistics from the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario show that the number of registered nurses in on the decline.  In 2012, the number of Ontario RNs declined to 92,800 from about 93,400. 

Moore agrees that the need for RNs in the field is important, but fears that RPNs will get hired before her.

“I think this is a great program,” Moore said. “But we need to consider the fact that RPNs are more affordable with more hands on experience. Sure, they are only suited to work in hospitals with stable patients, but there is a huge discrepancy between our program and the real world.”

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