Province trying to boost nursing numbers

File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / psphotography

The province is going to allow internationally trained nurses to work in Ontario hospitals to help deal with staffing shortages brought on by the Omicron variant.

Ontario Health CEO Matt Anderson says the program would work by recruiting nursing students, Allied Health students, and medical students.

“We’ve put them into various types of programs, the most common program is called an ‘extern’ program. So this is where a student comes in, usually we try to do it in a group of at least four. We then have a preceptor at the hospital wh0 would lead these folks and supervise them and their care through the system,” said Anderson.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 1,200 nursing students have already expressed interest in the program and will be matched with hospitals and long-term care homes later this week.

Meanwhile Anderson says the biggest challenge they have in hospitals right now is absenteeism, and they are doing a number of things to address that, including cancelling non-urgent surgeries and procedures.

“While it does free up inpatient beds and ICU capacity, and that’s very, very important. It also allows us to redeploy the people who would be working in those clinics,” added Anderson.

Meanwhile, provincial officials are cautiously optimistic that we’re nearing the peak of the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.