In recognition of National Nursing Week, the Government of Saskatchewan recognized the 16,900 nurses across the province for their hard work and dedication to caring for Saskatchewan residents every day.
"This week we celebrate nurses in our province for their many contributions to the health and well-being of residents, especially through the past two years," Health Minister Paul Merriman said. "I want to thank them for answering the call. Along with other health care providers, they are the foundation of our health system."
Investments were made into this year’s provincial budget to provide dedicated training, recruitment and retention of nurses, as the province continues to manage COVID-19, and works to support the health system’s recovery from its effects, stated the Government in a release.
The Government states that new funding in the 2022-23 budget will add 150 new nursing training seats: 124 for Registered Nurses (RNs), 16 for Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs) and 10 for Nurse Practitioners (NP) offered through the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
"Thank you to everyone who is part of the training for our future human health resource professionals for all of your dedication," Advanced Education Minister Gene Makowsky said. "Expanding nurse training seats helps ensure post-secondary programs are aligned with the current and future needs of our province."
In addition to the 150 new nurse training opportunities, Saskatchewan stated it supports 690 RN seats, 40 NP seats, and 56 RPN seats. There are also 231 licensed practical nurse training seats offered by Saskatchewan Polytechnic, regional colleges, Dumont Technical Institute, and the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology in various training locations across the province.
The budget this year includes $1.5 million in new one-time funding for a recruitment incentive program, as part of a virtual recruitment initiative to bring in qualified candidates from the Philippines to fill critical health sector positions. The initiative will recruit approximately 100 Registered Nurses.
“We have more nurses practicing in the province than any other time in history, however we recognize that there is more work to do.” Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said. “That’s why we have a four-point plan to recruit, train, incentivize and retain health care workers to help get our system back on track. ”
To help with recruitment and retention of high priority health professions, including nursing, a new independent agency will be established this year, stated the Government. The agency will collaborate with the Ministries of Health, Advanced Education and Immigration and Career Training, healthcare employers and communities to actively recruit across the province and country, including overseas.
The province states it supports several retention programs dedicated to nurses.
The Government states its Student Loan Forgiveness Program encourages nurses and nurse practitioners to practice in rural or remote communities by forgiving up to $20,000 of their Saskatchewan Student Loans Over 140 nurses benefitted from the program in 2021-22. Saskatchewan states since 2013, 462 nurses have received over $1.2 million from the program.
The Graduate Retention Program (GRP) provides income tax credits of up to $20,000 to graduates of eligible post-secondary programs who live and work in Saskatchewan. Since 2008, just over 10,000 GRP certificates were provided to graduates of nursing programs. Nurses and Nurse Practitioners who are eligible for the Student Loan Forgiveness Program may also qualify for the Graduate Retention Program.
From Government data dating back to 2022, there are 4,300 (34 percent) more nurses practicing in Saskatchewan than in 2007, which includes Registered Nurses, Registered Psychiatric Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses and Nurse Practitioners.
Nurses are being recognized during National Nursing Week, May 9 to 15. The theme of this year's National Nursing Week is "#WeAnswerTheCall," showcasing the many roles that nurses play in a patient's health care journey.
In a statement made by the Saskatchewan Health Authority, they thank nurses for everything they do.
“As we celebrate National Nursing Week this year, it’s time to focus on our personal and team wellness. To everyone that provides nursing care, take the time to reflect on your contributions as individuals and as teams. To everyone who has been cared for by a nurse, take the time to personally thank them. To everyone who knows a nurse you care about, let them know you honour and respect their contributions.”
May 12, the birthday of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale, is designated as International Nurses Day.
For International Nurses Day, The Guardian Angels wanted to make Humboldt's nurses feel special and will donate some handcrafted items to those who care for Humboldt and Area.