New Brunswick says program recruiting internationally-trained nurses has been a success

Click to play video: 'N.B. going great lengths to recruit nurses' N.B. going great lengths to recruit nurses
Watch: Many provinces are dealing with staffing shortages in the healthcare industry, and New Brunswick is no exception. But the government has had success in retaining nurses by going to great lengths -- and distances -- to recruit. Travis Fortnum explains – Apr 11, 2022

New Brunswick’s provincial government says a pilot project aimed at recruiting nurses trained abroad has seen a success.

The pilot — which is a partnership between the province’s Department of Health, Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and the federal department of Employment and Social Development Canada — boasts 80 nurses hired since it began in the fall of 2020.

Of those 80 nurses, 55 have been hired by the Horizon Health Network, 12 by Vitalité Health Network and 13 by nursing homes across the province, Labour Minister Trevor Holder said at a news conference Monday.

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He said another 150 internationally-educated nurses are looking to make the move to New Brunswick over the next year.

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They include nurses like Deborah Ferreira, who worked as a registered nurse in Brazil before moving to New Brunswick.

She settled in Saint John in 2018 – before the pilot project officially began – but said the supports the program has provided mean her RN licensing should carry over by the end of the year.

“It’s like a dream come true,” said Ferreira.

“I’m getting close to achieving my goal and I see I can help.”

She currently works as a health aide at Loch Lomond Villa, a long-term care facility in Saint John and the site of the provincial government’s Monday news conference.

She said she was surprised to hear how many other internationally-educated nurses were also making the move.

“The licensing process can be overwhelming,” Ferreira said to anyone thinking about it, “but don’t give up.”

“It takes time, but you’re going to get there,” she added.

Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said New Brunswick is “competing with the entire world for health-care talent.”

The aging population of the province is seeing an already-strenuous recruitment and retention gap grow wider.

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Read more: New Brunswick government invests nearly $1.5M in nursing program

“The baby boomer generation is retiring,” said Shephard.

“That includes our health-care professionals, including our nurses.”

Forty-one per cent of the province’s RNs are eligible to retire in the next five years, according to the New Brunswick Nurses Union.

So while the numbers of nurses immigrating may still need to climb, Horizon Health CEO John Dornan said each recruitment helps.

“You bring in one extra nurse and that’s real on a given nursing unit. You bring 60 or 80? That’s real on a number of units,” said Dornan.

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