September 28, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (“CASN”) issued a statement today addressing the current state of health human resources in Canada, specifically in response to the current nurse shortages reported across the nation.
“The unremitting demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated by the anti-vaccine movement, are having a crushing impact on Canada’s already stretched nursing workforce. While stressful working conditions were taking a toll prior to COVID-19, after nearly two years of the pandemic, we are now seeing many of our experienced nurses leaving front line positions. We are facing a serious nursing shortage, and our schools are under pressure to increase the numbers of nursing graduates, and to speed up the educational process to address the shortage,” said Cynthia Baker, Executive Director, CASN.
Nursing is a highly specialized, complex, and skilled profession, and as the national voice for nursing education in Canada, CASN would like to make it clear to governments and its public health care partners that there are no shortcuts to educating competent and qualified nurses. Quality nursing education cannot be sacrificed, exchanged, or accelerated without serious consequences.
Nursing education programs delivered by an inadequate supply of faculty and insufficient clinical learning experiences will aggravate rather than address the current problem. Even the most optimally educated new graduate will not replace an experienced nurse. In the current health care context, securing clinical placement experiences for students are a challenge, and the mentorship and coaching new nursing graduates need upon entering the workforce is being eroded. Multiple studies demonstrate that an inadequate educational preparation and insufficient support of new graduates in the nursing work force is highly stressful for the new nurse and brings significant risks to patient safety. Studies also show that increased stress among new nursing graduates leads to early departures from the nursing workforce.
The solution to the problem is not to rush nurses through their education programs – which are designed to equip them with the knowledge and skills they will need to see this nation through to better health. CASN exhorts the public and governments to address the working conditions leading to the nursing shortage in the short-term and support the long-term solution to the current health care crisis – which has always been a strong educational preparation of practical nurses, registered nurses, and nurse practitioners, as well as entry-to-practice support for all new nursing graduates.
The applicant pool to schools of nursing has remained very strong despite the pandemic and enrollments in most Canadian schools of nursing have been high for a decade. COVID-19 has made it evident that nurses’ knowledge, skills, and abilities stand between the life and death of their patients. It is imperative that the Canadian population be cared for by a nursing workforce that has continued to receive the solid, high-quality education that Canada is known for around the world.
About Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing
The Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) is the national voice for nursing education, research, and scholarship and represents baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs across Canada. CASN’s objectives are to lead nursing education and nursing scholarship in the interest of healthier Canadians.
For more information:
Cynthia Baker, RN, PhD
Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing
Telephone: (613) 235-3150 Ext. 126