All about AHS & Covenant

  1. Hello again!

    So long story short, I'm almost done school and currently applying for jobs in Ontario, BC, and AB. My goal is to move back home to AB. Ontario and BC hospitals have already contacted me for interviews but nothing from AHS. I've applied to almost 90% of jobs on AHS and Covenant including Long Term Care and rural areas (3-7 hrs away from Edmonton) and nothing! My CV is too bad for a new grad since I've a few interviews lining up but WHY nothing from Alberta?

    My question is what is REALLY going on with AHS & Covenant? Are these posts fake? I just can't believe that even the LTC didn't contact me. Also, just wondering if AHS and Covenant were already merged together?

    Thanks folks!
  2. Visit hellohobbit profile page

    About hellohobbit

    Joined: Jan '16; Posts: 38; Likes: 3

    11 Comments

  3. by   peripateticRN
    Wish I could tell you...

    I scored an interview in the summer for an ED position in with AHS.. it went great, they did all my ref checks etc, and told me they would like to bring me into the unit but they were currently switching up the lines. I was told to apply on any lines that I was interested in and they would get me in one shortly. I applied on ALL OF THEM (probably 15 or more postings over the course of 2 months). Never heard anything back - after emailing on of the managers that I interviewed with she was still super positive and told me to keep applying. I eventually gave up. Super frustrating.

    Since then I applied on 50+ positions - even positions within the same hospital I was working in, and never got anything back.

    My only thought is that the new application system is somehow screening people out before the application makes it to the managers. OR that there are just so many applicants for every position that the competition is unreal. I was told when I oriented for a float pool position that at that time they were getting 150-200 applications for every position. that seems ridiculous but who knows.

    STrangely enough as soon as I started applying outside of the hospital setting (ie public health, corrections etc) I got a bunch of interviews and three job offers within a week.

    AHS and Covenant are separate entities. I have not heard of any talk of merging them.


    Hope that helps!
    Good luck!
  4. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    AHS has to post RN vacancies as per the collective agreement they have with the United Nurses of Alberta. But posting them and filling them are two different things. They continue to experiment with skill-mix models of care that have been tried and have failed several times over, in an effort to rein in their budget. But they don't seem to realize that somebody has to care for the patients, and when there aren't enough of the correct names on the assignment sheet to do the required work, they have to bring in overtime. So they're paying for the work one way or another. It's a false economy to refuse to hire the right number of people for the workload to keep costs down - benefits are what they like to use as their pivot - then pay someone double out of desperation. Overtime is all that's keeping my unit afloat. God help us when the inevitable burnout hits. It's like the people making the decisions at the highest levels have little in the way of logic. They've expanded capacity in the ER, the OR and the ICUs at my hospital in the sense that they've opened rooms and beds, but haven't managed to figure out the human resources part. And they haven't opened new inpatient beds on the wards to allow for movement out the areas they did expand... It's a puzzle.
  5. by   hellohobbit
    Thanks guys for all your insightful comments! It's just a very frustrating that years ago everyone was telling me AHS was hiring a lot nurses and now it's totally a whole new story UGHH.

    One thing I still don't really get it is that why an organization is more willing to pay the regular staff overtime rather than hiring cheaper new grads? From my understanding, overtime gets more $ so it'll be more expensive to have them work overtime. On the other hand, new grads are cheaper labor $33/hr vs. an experienced nurse $40++/hour. It just don't make sense? enlighten me please.
    Last edit by hellohobbit on Mar 8
  6. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    It's really hard to make sense of it all. Eleven years ago, Alberta's health regions were hiring nurses from all over the world. Oil and gas were selling at good prices and the economy was humming. Nine years ago, Alberta Health Services was created and local/regional control of health services was amalgamated into a centralized single organization. It was supposed to improve health care delivery by reducing duplication and providing economies of scale. But there are more layers of management than ever before. The people in the C-suite have no connection with the front-line provision of health care but they have total control of it. When the Alberta economy slumped at around the same time, a slump it hasn't recovered from yet, various methods for tightening the belt were developed. Hiring freezes have been instituted several times, dictated in large part by provincial budgets. The people making these decisions are looking through the wrong end of the telescope and think that just reducing the number of nurses in the system will save them money. But like I said, the work still has to be done. Population continues to increase, albeit somewhat less quickly than a decade ago, and people continue to need health care. The federal government has increased immigration with fewer checks and balances on who is admitted - a significant proportion of patients in our hospitals these days are immigrants who arrived in Canada with chronic, serious (expensive) health problems. On the balance sheet, overtime is a separate line item, so the folks who hold the purse strings pat themselves on the back that they instituted a hiring freeze and kept the number of employees static while they ignore the overtime bill in the $millions. They're also putting our tax-paying patients at risk by running the roster so lean... exhausted people don't always work to their peak ability, do they? But in some ways, they're correct. On-boarding costs aren't insignificant; there's a lot of paper work involved, as well as screening, interviewing, checking references and so on. It costs a lot of money to orient a new staff member, no matter what their discipline. Some models suggest it costs roughly $100K to get a new nurse to the point where they're actually useful. They can pay for about 1500 hours of overtime with that money. If you frame it like that, it starts to look reasonable.

    Another factor that has to be mentioned is the number of nurses in Alberta whose partners have been laid off or just let go from their jobs in the oil and gas industry who are now working full time to support their families. I know several people who are in that situation. People who might otherwise have retired by now are still working because they have to. It's a multifactorial situation.
  7. by   peripateticRN
    In the hospital I was working in, we had a huge float pool that was drawn on to staff shortages so 'rarely' was OT paid out. That said it was not unusual to have units staffed with 50% or more float staff on a given shift. This is not ideal for patient care or staff retention, but at least we were never short (in 15 months working there we were short only once).
    Anyway, float staff tended to be newer nurses, and thus cheaper than experienced nurses.. so maybe that is how they made it work. ??

    This still does not answer the question of why there are so many postings with no one ever getting hired.
  8. by   hellohobbit
    Quote from peripateticRN
    In the hospital I was working in, we had a huge float pool that was drawn on to staff shortages so 'rarely' was OT paid out. That said it was not unusual to have units staffed with 50% or more float staff on a given shift. This is not ideal for patient care or staff retention, but at least we were never short (in 15 months working there we were short only once).
    Anyway, float staff tended to be newer nurses, and thus cheaper than experienced nurses.. so maybe that is how they made it work. ??

    This still does not answer the question of why there are so many postings with no one ever getting hired.
    wow 50% is a lot! I know downtown Toronto hospital use about 1/2 float nurse per unit.

    Just wondering how did you apply for float team in AHS/Covenant? I've never seen such posting on the website before. In many Toronto hospitals, after working as a float nurse for about a year, you can apply for funding for critical care courses and training etc (most likely you'll get it) and you can start floating to ICU. Is this the same in Alberta?
  9. by   hellohobbit
    Quote from NotReady4PrimeTime
    It's really hard to make sense of it all. Eleven years ago, Alberta's health regions were hiring nurses from all over the world. Oil and gas were selling at good prices and the economy was humming. Nine years ago, Alberta Health Services was created and local/regional control of health services was amalgamated into a centralized single organization. It was supposed to improve health care delivery by reducing duplication and providing economies of scale. But there are more layers of management than ever before. The people in the C-suite have no connection with the front-line provision of health care but they have total control of it. When the Alberta economy slumped at around the same time, a slump it hasn't recovered from yet, various methods for tightening the belt were developed. Hiring freezes have been instituted several times, dictated in large part by provincial budgets. The people making these decisions are looking through the wrong end of the telescope and think that just reducing the number of nurses in the system will save them money. But like I said, the work still has to be done. Population continues to increase, albeit somewhat less quickly than a decade ago, and people continue to need health care. The federal government has increased immigration with fewer checks and balances on who is admitted - a significant proportion of patients in our hospitals these days are immigrants who arrived in Canada with chronic, serious (expensive) health problems. On the balance sheet, overtime is a separate line item, so the folks who hold the purse strings pat themselves on the back that they instituted a hiring freeze and kept the number of employees static while they ignore the overtime bill in the $millions. They're also putting our tax-paying patients at risk by running the roster so lean... exhausted people don't always work to their peak ability, do they? But in some ways, they're correct. On-boarding costs aren't insignificant; there's a lot of paper work involved, as well as screening, interviewing, checking references and so on. It costs a lot of money to orient a new staff member, no matter what their discipline. Some models suggest it costs roughly $100K to get a new nurse to the point where they're actually useful. They can pay for about 1500 hours of overtime with that money. If you frame it like that, it starts to look reasonable.

    Another factor that has to be mentioned is the number of nurses in Alberta whose partners have been laid off or just let go from their jobs in the oil and gas industry who are now working full time to support their families. I know several people who are in that situation. People who might otherwise have retired by now are still working because they have to. It's a multifactorial situation.
    Excellent points! I've never thought about this before. Now I can see a bigger picture of what's going on and the roots of the problems. It sounds like the situation isn't going to get any better any time soon. I guess it's better for me to stay put in Toronto or move to BC then. Very disappointing that I can't move back to my family and bf, but also glad that I didn't do nursing in AB because I'll be probably be jobless after graduation and have to relocate to another provinence. Just when I thought Toronto's job market is hard to crack in, AB is not even hiring :'(
  10. by   peripateticRN
    Quote from hellohobbit
    wow 50% is a lot! I know downtown Toronto hospital use about 1/2 float nurse per unit.

    Just wondering how did you apply for float team in AHS/Covenant? I've never seen such posting on the website before. In many Toronto hospitals, after working as a float nurse for about a year, you can apply for funding for critical care courses and training etc (most likely you'll get it) and you can start floating to ICU. Is this the same in Alberta?
    There are frequently posting for float pool on AHS anyway.. they may say 'resource team' and not float through. Typically if it is a med/surg position without a unit listed it is a float position.
    As for education, UNA will pay up to $700 year (they may have just dropped that to $500) for educational opportunities once you've been in a position for at least 6 months. I got my ACLS paid for that way.
    There is no floating to the ICU (at least in my area).. you have to be hired into a position there - take the OPACCA course and commit to a one year full time position to get in there.
  11. by   NotReady4PrimeTime
    Quote from peripateticRN
    As for education, UNA will pay up to $700 year (they may have just dropped that to $500) for educational opportunities once you've been in a position for at least 6 months. I got my ACLS paid for that way.
    That isn't quite accurate. The only UNA local that provides education funding is the University of Alberta/Stollery. The money comes from Employment Insurance overpayment refunds and the amount has been reduced from a maximum of $750 a year to a maximum of $300 (I believe).
  12. by   peripateticRN
    Quote from NotReady4PrimeTime
    That isn't quite accurate. The only UNA local that provides education funding is the University of Alberta/Stollery.
    Not to be argumentative, but I was not with the UofA local and received education funding. I would agree that it probably is limited to the larger locals though.
  13. by   ArceusAlpha
    I'm an AHS employee, it's been hard for me to apply for any positions too. I've applied to many internal postings and no calls so far. It really boils down to your experience and seniority.
    I can only imagine how difficult it is as an external applicant. I've also been hearing rumours of the hiring freeze that started in Dec 2017.

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