I am a Canadian Nurse: - page 3

by Fiona59

3,207 Views | 26 Comments

I register with a College. I write CPNRE or CNRE to be issued a practice permit. I belong to a union. Now the thread is started. Keep adding. We know who we are. Perhaps it's time to let the casual readers of... Read More


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    Krisstyee, what you've said is not uncommon for nursing. However, it varies according to where you work, and the overall working conditions are MUCH worse in the US.

    It also varies from Province to Province. ON is one of the worst at the moment. The union isn't as strong, and pay isn't as good as a few others. ON has also been on massive hiring freezes for a few years. I finished school last year in ON and moved. As far as the unpaid overtime, this is common everywhere. Unless there is an emergency, I make it so that I'm not staying later than 15 to 20 min past my shift.

    I'm one nurse for 30, so that is a challenge, but I have learned to prioritize and get out. I think your nursing experience will vary according to where you work, but, more importantly, what you're willing to tolerate from management. I had to learn to say no.

    All in all, Canadian nurses have it VERY good. Just read some of these boards...
    krissytee and Fiona59 like this.
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    Quote from joanna73
    Krisstyee, what you've said is not uncommon for nursing. However, it varies according to where you work, and the overall working conditions are MUCH worse in the US.

    It also varies from Province to Province. ON is one of the worst at the moment. The union isn't as strong, and pay isn't as good as a few others. ON has also been on massive hiring freezes for a few years. I finished school last year in ON and moved. As far athe unpaid overtime, this is common everywhere. Unless there is an emergency, I make it so that I'm not staying later than 15 to 20 min past my shift.

    I'm one nurse for 30, so that is a challenge, but I have learned to prioritize and get out. I think your nursing experience will vary according to where you work, but, more importantly, what you're willing to tolerate from management. I had to learn to say no.

    All in all, Canadian nurses have it VERY good. Just read some of these boards...
    Agree. I have been 1 nurse for a minimum of 64 and at most 120. You are right that a lot of it stems from how much you are willing to put up with, but there is no denying that bills need to get paid and some work and gaining experience is better than not working at all. I just want people not to see all the sunshine and lollipops that is being displayed here without also seeing that there are some real issues as well. There are a bunch of nurses way past retirement age that won't retire as well.
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    The first 18 months of my nursing career were exactly like yours. I had 3 kids, a mortgage, 2 car loans, student and credit card debt, an out-of-work spouse and not a job to be had anywhere. I survived and so will you.

    Too many people don't think deeply enough about what it means to work as a nurse in direct care. It means shift work, it means missing out on family events, it means sleeping when everybody else is up and about. There's a degree of sacrifice that is part of the package and if you're not aware and aren't prepared it will make you resent your situation. Inability to find full time work is not a Canadian problem, and it's not even news. The mainstream media reports on the state of health care in our country all the time. Reading a newspaper once in awhile would be enough for a person to see that provincial budget constraints will have an impact on nursing jobs. Even in the land of milk and money that Alberta is considered, nursing jobs have been in flux since 2008. Why else would the United Nurses of Alberta negotiate a clause in their contract forcing the province to hire at least 70% of local new grads annually or give a really good reason why they didn't?

    '"Please do not be naive and turn a blind eye to the rest of us who are working 3 jobs to try and secure full-time hours, who miss spending time with their family, who are bogged down with the stressful "feast or famine" scenario that new grads are fighting their way through today." It's not only new grads who experience this. All of us do, in one way or another. I have one job, I don't work full time by choice, but I miss spending time with my family all the time and get flak from my now-adult, professionally-employed children that I can't be available when they want me to be. And it doesn't help when I remind them that I became a nurse so that they could have a better life. And the "feast-or-famine" aspect affects me every day as new staff are hired onto my unit, receive their orientation, hang around for a few months and then leave because they don't like the working conditions.

    Nobody's saying that nursing in Canada is a Utopian experience because that's far from true. However, when you compare the Canadian experience to that of our neighbours to the south, and to those of many other countries, we do have it pretty good. We aren't fired for no reason, we have twice as many vacation days and paid stat days, we have enforced hours-of-work legislation and other protections regardless of our union affiliation. We aren't required to account for absolutely every tissue and drop of hand sanitizer we use so that it can be billed to the patient. We aren't using one unit of blood for several patients as they do in many eastern European countries. We aren't using expired medical supplies and obsolete equipment that have been donated for our use - we're the donors of such. While we have waiting lists for elective procedures, no one is turned away in an emergency due to a lack of money. Our health care outcomes are as good or better than most other countries around the world and our life expectancy is much longer than many. Perfect? No. Pretty good? Oh yes.
    joanna73, krissytee, loriangel14, and 1 other like this.
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    Quote from krissytee
    I would be the first to stand up and cheer everyone on with what has been said, but that is not my experience with one year of nursing under my belt working in Ontario.
    - Barely able to support my family as there seem to only be casual or part-time positions available
    - a zillion new grads vying for the same positions forcing a large majority of new nurses into ltc
    -ltc facilities providing poor managerial support and not enough orientation
    -not getting paid for breaks and also having no one to cover you so you can take them
    -regularly working a minimum of 45 minutes past the end of your shift and not getting paid for it (non-unionized facilities)

    Please do not say this is an anomaly because I have spoken to quite a few nurses where this is the case either working for agency or ltc in Ontario. I am one of many who have school loans to repay, a mortgage and a family and feel that at times the school and the government have misled thousands of students into thinking they will have work when they graduate and that is not so. Congrats to those that have had success in this profession since day 1. Please do not be naive and turn a blind eye to the rest of us who are working 3 jobs to try and secure full-time hours, who miss spending time with their family, who are bogged down with the stressful "feast or famine" scenario that new grads are fighting their way through today.
    Yours is not the first class of nurses who have had it rough. The '90s were brutal to nurses in Alberta due to government cut backs. I graduated at the turn of the century and worked four casual jobs (with three different employers) to repay my student loans.

    We are not blind. But we have learnt that unionized positions are the way to go.

    I wouldn't say it was the government who misled nursing students rather some schools and many families who have encouraged their daughters to go into nursing "because you'll always have a job and it pays well". I know there are men in nursing who are in a similar job crunch but men tend not to get directed into nursing as often as women. One of my nursing professors remembers finding no work in the late 80s and wound up stacking groceries in a warehouse.

    No job that is government funded is fool proof.

    I totally understand your comment about nurses not retiring as there several in my hospital collecting their pensions and working permanent part time positions. For those of us who had to wait upto five years to find a permanent part time line, we are counting the moments until they retire but since the Supreme Court said nobody has to leave at 65 we are all stuck. I'd love to upsize my part time position but it's just not happening. So with my very small position, I'm still looking to pick up shifts.

    Trust me it isn't rosy but when you compare what we have compared to nurses in some US states and in third world countries, we don't have it too bad.
    joanna73, krissytee, and loriangel14 like this.
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    Both of you have made very valid points and I fully agree. I guess I need to remember that this situation seems to revisit itself every decade and we are fortunate to live in a country that values providing healthcare no matter what a person's station of life is.
    joanna73 likes this.
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    I have a question for the union nurses especially any nurses under ona.

    Do you get paid for report time? If you work a 12 hour shift how much time are you paid?
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    I can't speak for ONA but in Alberta we're paid from 0700 to 1915 or 1900 to 0715, regardless of how long report takes. The only time we (on my unit) can claim OT for a long report is if there has been a code/late-in-the-shift admission or the patient is very complex and the oncoming nurse is totally unfamiliar. And on my unit we usually are only reporting on one patient. Many's the shift I've still been giving report at 40 past.


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