Island Health hiring more nurses than ever


As we celebrate National Nursing Week and the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, Island Health is experiencing its most successful spring recruitment program ever. 

More than 330 new nursing graduates will soon be working at Island Health locations — 312 have been hired and 20 more nursing graduates are in the placement process. In 2019, Island Health hired 232 nursing graduates; 220 of those graduates were still with Island Health as of the end of February 2020, marking a 95 per cent retention rate.

“We welcome the news that Island Health has been able to recruit and retain such a significant number of nursing graduates,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “Nurses are important members of our health-care teams and will play a critical role as B.C. embarks on the ambitious plan to resume elective surgeries.” 

In response to the growing demand for new nurses, Island Health launched a robust recruitment effort earlier this year in collaboration with nursing education partners at the University of Victoria, Vancouver Island University, North Island College and Camosun College. Recruiters worked directly with new nursing graduates to match them with their preferred areas of interest and support them in the transition from student to professional life. 

“When 2020 was declared the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife, no one could imagine that nursing would be front and centre in the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Dawn Nedzelski, Island Health Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Professional Practice. “New graduate nurses entering practice at this time face unique challenges. They may also be anxious and uncertain about caring for patients while COVID-19 circulates. 

“We know that new graduate nurses bring new knowledge, enthusiasm, and skill into our system right when our patients need us most. Their contribution and learning journey is an opportunity not just for new nurses but for all of us at Island Health. We are behind our new grads every step of the way with new resources specific to joining our nursing family during this challenging time.” 

New nursing graduate Christopher Linstead decided to work in long-term care after going through the Camosun College/UVIC nursing program.

“I couldn’t ask for better colleagues,” he said. “(I’ve been) very well supported. Our clinical nurse educator, clinical nurse leader and manager have reached out on a daily basis with support for dealing with COVID.”

UVIC Nursing graduate Robert Linde is happy to be serving in the community where he grew up. He will be starting in neurosciences at Victoria General Hospital.

“I'm excited to be working on the Island, serving my community and giving back,” he said. “I've prepared really hard to have a long career helping people so I'm excited to get started in my career field.”

Most of the new hires are Registered Nurses (RNs), and there is also a small cohort of Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs). Victoria, Duncan, Nanaimo, Comox and Campbell River hospitals account for the largest placements of nursing graduates. New nursing graduates have also been placed at hospitals in smaller communities including Port Alberni, Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Saanich Peninsula, Salt Spring and Tofino. 

RNs and RPNs represent Island Health’s largest single workforce; almost 7,000 of these professionals work in communities across Vancouver Island.

Central/North Island media inquiries:

Dominic Abassi

South Island media inquiries:

Cheryl Bloxham