AHS ramping up nurse hunt

Alberta Health Services wants to hire more full-time nurses to offset the projected retirement rates and increased demand for health care services.

Alberta Health Services wants to hire more full-time nurses to offset the projected retirement rates and increased demand for health care services.

In the next five years, 5,700 clinical employees, including 2,200 registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses, could retire across the province. An estimated 35,000 additional clinical workers will be needed to work in the province in five years.

A mere 28 per cent of all AHS nurses work full-time compared to the national rate of 56 per cent, according to AHS statistics released on Thursday.

“We always aim for trying to get as many full-time positions as we can,” said Kerry Bales, AHS Central Zone Senior Vice-President.

“Obviously there is a balance you try to strike with your nurses and your professionals. Generally speaking what we want to do is raise that number. It allows us to take best advantage of the trained professionals. It also helps to improve consistency from a caregiver perspective for the patients that we serve.”

Bales said there are more challenges hiring nurses full time in rural areas compared to larger centres that tend to have higher percentages of full-time staff. In Central Alberta, the further away from the Hwy 2 Corridor, the more vacancies.

Bales said they really try to promote rural training and take advantage of job fairs at places like Red Deer College.

AHS board chairman Stephen Lockwood said AHS is working with the United Nurses of Alberta to hire more full-time nurses.

“Let’s see if we can move that 28 per cent up a little higher,” said Lockwood, after an Alberta Health Services board meeting in Red Deer on Thursday.

“Is the national average the right place or not? I don’t know if it is or not.”

This month, AHS will be recruiting at career fairs in Red Deer. A minimum of 70 per cent of Alberta’s graduating registered nurses will be hired under the 2010-2013 United Nurses of Alberta collective agreement.

In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, AHS hired 1,652 RN graduates of which 1,038 were hired for non-casual positions from Alberta post-secondary institutions. In the first quarter of 2012-2013, AHS hired 943 RN graduates, of which 465 were hired for non-casual positions.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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