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Province Beefs Up Funding For Specialty Nurses Via BCIT

Victoria/Burnaby – The provincial government is more than doubling the number of specialty nurse training opportunities in the province by funding 1,000 seats each year at the British Columbia School of Technology (BCIT).

This increase will help meet growing demand for care throughout British Columbia. Specialty nurses work in high-skill areas ranging from emergency settings to intensive care units for high-risk cardiac care patients, to delivering babies and providing newborn care, to working with complex patients with multiple health challenges.

“Specialty nurses help us when we need emergency care; they help deliver our babies and they care for us when we are seriously ill,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Increasing the number of specialty nurse seats helps people get trained for some of the most important and in-demand jobs in B.C. That is why we created more training opportunities for nurses – so they have the tools they need to be there for British Columbians when we need them most.”

BCIT’s specialty nursing training program is one of Canada’s most comprehensive, providing nurses advanced hands-on training for work in hospital and community settings.

Starting in 2018-19, the Province added 611 training seats to the previous 389 seat baseline for a total of 1,000 seats. The Province is providing funding at that level for 2019-20 and 2020-21 and will continue to provide support going forward to help ensure B.C.’s health-care workforce is ready to meet patient needs.

The BC Nurses Union released a statement in favour of this decision:

As nurse vacancy rates continue to climb and BC’s health care system struggles to meet demands, the BC Nurses’ Union commends the provincial government for its latest announcement to continue to invest in specialty nurse education opportunities offered at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).

Since 2016, the union has been pressuring government to increase funding for specialty nurse education opportunities. Today’s announcement of the government’s commitment to continue to fund a total of 1,000 seats in BCIT’s specialty nursing program for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years is a welcome update.

“Addressing the provinces’ nurse shortage is a complex challenge and will require attention not only in the way of recruitment and retention strategies, but also in education opportunities, so I am pleased to see our health minister continue to make such a significant investment into the future,” says BCNU President Christine Sorensen. “Specialty nurses provide acute care in many different forms, and their expertise is greatly needed as we see increased patient acuity and complex population needs.”

A direct consequence of the nurse shortage is the chronic reliance on overtime, responsible for keeping BC hospitals staffed. This remains a serious concern for Sorensen, who would like to see more constructive solutions to address the shortage of nurses in the province, as well as a comprehensive health human resources plan that focuses on the future.

A report released last week by the Ministry of Health shows the provincial hospital system has been operating at over-capacity, and that the rate of overcrowding is increasing. Furthermore, the province expects it will need upwards of 25,000 new nurses by 2030 to keep up with health care demands.

“This is a staggering number,” says Sorensen. “In order to meet this target, the focus must be on education and training opportunities, which is why we are glad to hear the government is following through on their commitment to meet BC’s patient and population needs”.

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