Quebec dealing with unusually high turnover rate among nurses

Nurse

Hospitals and clinics across Quebec are having a hard time keeping nurses in the profession.

Far too many of them are getting out, because of burnout, early retirements, or other job opportunities, according to an organization representing Quebec's nurses.

"The situation has gotten worse in the last few years, because of the cuts, and also the way the hospitals have been managed," Roberto Bomba, the head of the Fédération interprofessionelle de la santé (FIQ), told CJAD 800's Ken Connors. "So It's quite upsetting."

Bomba says many nurses are being asked to work on multiple sites at a time, along with multiple shifts at the same time. Many of them, too, he says, are only guaranteed two shifts per week as soon as they get out of school.

"Nobody could feed a family with two shifts per week," Bomba says.

He cites studies which show that if they leave the profession within the first five years of getting hired, they won't come back — thanks in part to Quebec's historically low unemployment rate and new, less stressful job opportunities elsewhere.

"Unfortunately, it's the workload," he says. "The workload is very difficult based on the cuts of staffing in the last few years. So unfortunately, we're losing expertise form these people that have actually studied three years and onward, and unfortunately, when they reach the work force, the workload is so huge [compared] to what they were expecting in terms of their studies, that they leave the profession."

In early 2018, a young overworked nurse, Émilie Ricard, posted a rant on Facebook at the end of a hospital shift where, at one point, she said she was caring for no less than 70 patients all by herself. Ricard, a new mom, was forced to do two mandatory overtime shifts right off of maternity leave. She took issue with then-health minister Gaétan Barrette's assertion that his recent health reforms were a success.

Bomba says there are solutions on the horizon — the former Liberal government started pilot projects aimed at capping nurse-patient ratios, which he says have been successful in some parts of the province.