A new study finds that nearly seven in 10 nurses in Ontario cannot provide adequate patient care with almost half saying they are considering leaving the profession for good.
A recent WeRPN (Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario) survey is raising the alarm over its findings that patient care is being critically compromised due to “staffing shortages and the standardization of unsafe workloads.”
The survey found that 68 per cent of nurses say they do not have enough time or resources to properly care for patients.
Sixty-six per cent said they’ve had to take on more patients with higher patient-to-nurse ratios.
The survey was conducted in May 2022 and called “The State of Nursing in Ontario: A 2022 Review” and polled more than 760 RPNs across the province. It was a follow-up study from December 2020 to measure the conditions of the provincial health care system through the perspectives of nurses.
It also found 86 per cent of nurses surveyed said they have been asked to take on more shifts or overtime to cover staffing shortages.
When it comes to workplace atmosphere, the study also found that moral distress is up and mental health has been impacted.
Four in five nurses (79 per cent) said they are experiencing moral distress on the job as they feel what is ethically correct to do differs from what they are tasked to do. This is up from 68 per cent reported in the 2020 survey.
The same number of nurses (four out of five) also reported “reaching their breaking point” at their job. The study found 94 per cent of nurses said they experience “increased stresses from their daily work.”
Although unchanged from the 2020 survey, nurses reported a significant mental health toll. Eighty-six per cent of nurses said their mental health is hurting because of the work they do and 67 per cent said they do not feel they have enough mental support.
Pride in nursing plummeted, according to the survey, which reported only 36 per cent said, “they had never been prouder to be a nurse.” In the 2020 study, the figure was 67 per cent.
What’s more, nearly one in two nurses, or 47 per cent, are now considering leaving the profession. This has jumped significantly from 34 per cent reported in the 2020 survey.
“The #1 catalyst for this is wage dissatisfaction. An overwhelming majority of nurses (91 per cent) believe they are not fairly compensated for their role as an RPN,” the study said.
As well, one out of three RPNs working in long-term care said they will leave the sector.
“I believe these findings will shock the public,” said Dianne Martin, chief executive officer of WeRPN. “Alarmingly, this is now being normalized.”