Doris Grinspun has a dream.
The executive director of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) hopes that one day the health care system will have an adequate supply of staff to cover the province’s needs.
“If we will be able to say some years from now that we don’t have a nursing shortage that will be magnificent,” Grinspun says.
In the meantime, there’s plenty of work to do.
Grinspun, a nurse of 30 years, says a sustainable staffing supply will require programs like the RNAO proposed 80/20 initiative.
Designed to help new graduates and reduce workplace burnout, the 80/20 proposal suggests nurses over age 55 spend 20 per cent (or one day a week) away from the bedside. Instead, the experienced nurses would spend their time on professional development activities such as mentoring a new generation of nurses.
The 80/20 initiative, which is projected to cost $75 million, is designed to reduce sick time and overtime. It’s been pitched to all three provincial political parties to be included in their upcoming elections plans.
Mary Ferguson-Paré, president of the RNAO, says the initiative will help create a healthy work life. “Burnout is still a very large issue for nurses in the work environment,” she says. A 2005 nation-wide report on the work and health of nurses released from the Canadian Institute for Health Information pointed out that the average nurse works four hours of unpaid overtime a week.
Grinspun believes the 80/20 initiative will be one of the first steps to revitalize nursing in the province.
“The nurses are aware we’re asking for this and they are extremely excited.”