Despite shortage, new nurses can't find full-time work

December 10, 2004

Hamilton, ON (Dec. 10, 2004) -- Despite a shortage of nursing staff, new Ontario nursing graduates can't find full-time work, a McMaster University study says.

In a province-wide survey of this year's graduates, researchers in McMaster's Nursing Health Services Research Unit (NHSRU) established that, among new nurses who found employment, 37 per cent had full-time jobs, 61 per cent had part-time or casual work and the others took on multiple jobs. In contrast, most new nurses (79 per cent) say they want full-time work.

The study was commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. This week the Ontario government announced it is investing $29.1 million to support nurses, including a $17.7 million program to create temporary full-time positions in hospitals and long-term facilities for new nurses while they wait for retirement vacancies. Previously, the government has also announced an additional $50 million to create full-time nursing positions across the province.

The survey findings are of concern to human resource planners, says Dr. Andrea Baumann, the study's principal investigator and the co-director of NHSRU.

"Nursing graduates who are unable to find preferred employment are likely to leave nursing, the province, or the country," she said. "If Ontario-educated nurses are lost to the province's workforce, the opportunity costs of the education dollars is also lost. More importantly, the opportunity for an effective health care system will be compromised."

The survey of graduating nurses across Ontario was conducted from March to September of 2004. Of 3,066 eligible graduating students, 1,851 completed the survey.

At the time of the survey, 42 per cent of new graduates were employed.

The survey also found the lack of opportunities for full time positions in the province is contributing to 26 per cent of the graduates considering looking to the United States for employment, and another 5.5 per cent to other countries.

Baumann noted a troubling finding from the survey, that more than 50 per cent of graduating nurses in southern Ontario (Windsor, London) are considering employment in the U.S.

The graduates are being resurveyed now to see if there have been changes to their employment situation.
The interim report is available on the Nursing Health Services Research Unit web site The ministry's announcement may be found at:

For further information or an interview, please contact:
Theresa Noonan
Knowledge Broker, Nursing Health Services Research Unit
Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Nursing
McMaster University
1200 Main Street West, MDCL 3500
Hamilton, Ontario
L8N 3Z5
Phone: 905-525-9140, ext. 22698
Fax: 905-522-5493

McMaster University

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