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Feds fund nurse mentoring program in British Columbia

VANCOUVER – A joint three-year pilot project to increase the number of nurses in BC was introduced at a funding announcement by Monte Solberg, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada.

Supported by the BC Ministry of Health and the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, the $4.1 million project was developed through a unique partnership including Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, the Nurses Bargaining Association, the University of Victoria and the University of BC. The BC partners are contributing $1.2 million, with Ottawa contributing the remaining $2.9 million through a grant.

“Canada’s new government is committed to meeting the changing demands of the health sector,” said Minister Solberg (pictured). “Through this important initiative, we are taking concrete steps to combat nursing shortages and ensure Canada stays ahead of the curve with an adequate pool of highly trained healthcare workers.”

This new nursing education model, known as “Preparing A Nursing Workforce to Advance Health Services” aims to prepare, recruit and retain quality nurses to meet ongoing provincial demand. The program will also address the shrinking number of nursing educators in the province.

The “focused masters” program allows nurses to progress through multi-stage advanced training, broadening their skill base and increasing their ability to mentor those one rung down on the “career ladder”. This provides nurses with a robust educational and vocational experience, encouraging long-term commitment to both nursing education and practice.

“This is an excellent example of the innovation we need to fill our workforce shortages,” said Ida Goodreau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vancouver Coastal Health. “Together, Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health alone project a need for 3500 new registered nurses by 2009. This initiative will go a long way towards supporting our nursing needs for the future.”

Said Keith Anderson, President and Chief Executive Officer (interim) of Fraser Health: “This project is exciting and innovative on many levels. It provides a new paradigm for collaboration, cooperation and learning across the healthcare, labour relations and education sectors.”