New graduates bolster Island Health’s nurse workforce

ISLAND WIDE – More than 230 new nursing graduates will soon be working at Island Health locations across Vancouver Island, thanks to another successful spring recruitment program.

So far, 234 nursing graduates have been hired and there may be a few more placements to come. This year’s recruitment of nursing graduates largely matches 2017’s figures, when Island Health hired 240 nursing graduates; 233 of those graduates were still with Island Health at the end of March 2018, marking a 97.1 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 key members of our health-care teams and these new additions will help support patient care in a variety of areas. Congratulations to the new hires.”

Most of the new hires are Registered Nurses (RNs), and there is also a small cohort of Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs). The nurses will work in various areas at Island Health hospitals, including medical/surgical floors, emergency departments, operating rooms and cardiac care units. They will also work at residential care facilities and in community health services and programs.

“We’re so happy to welcome these new nursing graduates to Island Health,” says Dawn Nedzelski, Chief Nursing Officer. “Their abilities and enthusiasm, combined with Island Health’s support and mentorship, will result in excellent nurses who will help us deliver the care that patients need and deserve.”

Megan Elgersma, one of this year’s recruits, began her orientation on May 7 at the North Island Hospital Comox Valley campus. She’s eager to pursue her new job’s learning opportunities. “As a nurse, I feel confident in my skills, I feel confident in what I’ve learned in school. But it’s totally different in the hospital,” says Elgersma. “I know I’ll be supported, and I know that I can ask questions. So I’m really excited for that continued learning – that’s why I chose to go into nursing.”

Elgersma, originally from Courtenay, has an undergraduate degree in biology and a diploma in electroneurophysiology; she completed the accelerated nursing program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. While Elgersma enjoyed her time there, she’s also keen to return to the Island. “I’m very much looking forward to being home, where my family is,” she says.

Parksville’s Allison Wall is another recruit who’s excited about joining Island Health. Wall, who began working at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH) on May 14, recently completed her undergraduate degree in nursing at Vancouver Island University (VIU). “I felt like I learned a lot, and became a better person and a better nurse because of it,” she says. “My role as a new grad is to continue to keep learning and build my confidence as I transition into the role of a Registered Nurse.”

Victoria, Nanaimo and the North Island Hospitals account for the largest placements of nursing graduates. A total of 114 graduates have been hired at Victoria hospitals (62 at Royal Jubilee Hospital and 52 at Victoria General Hospital); 41 have been hired at NRGH; and 30 have been hired at the North Island Hospitals (16 at the Comox Valley campus, and 14 at the Campbell River campus). Graduates have also been placed at hospitals in other communities across the Island, including Duncan, Port Alberni, Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Tofino.

Most graduates who applied to Island Health studied nursing at Vancouver Island schools, including the University of Victoria (138 graduates), VIU (70 graduates) and North Island College (20 graduates).

The spring recruitment push has been an annual undertaking since 2005. Highlights include day-long hiring fairs in Victoria and Nanaimo that take place in early March. This year, the events attracted 233 nursing graduates who participated in more than 600 interviews. Although the spring effort is wrapped up, nursing recruitment is ongoing and a smaller campaign is planned for the fall.

RNs and RPNs represent Island Health’s largest single workforce; about 7,700 of them work in communities across Vancouver Island.

Island Health provides health care and support services to more than 767,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and mainland communities north of Powell River.

Central/North Island media inquiries:
Cheryl Bloxham

South Island media inquiries:
Meribeth Burton