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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Over 20 per cent of priority positions, such as nurses, physiotherapists, and social workers, in rural and remote areas in the north are vacant, according to a recent human resources report for Northern Health’s Board of Directors.
According to the report, 20.31 per cent of the health authority’s baseline positions are unfilled, and it’s “higher for priority professions, [including] nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapist, diagnostics, social worker) in rural and remote.”
Another notable statistic from the report is that, on average, 55 per cent of departures Northern Health sees take place within three years of employment.
The reason for staff leaving is related to them “wanting to develop skills in larger facilities or specialty nursing roles, challenges with living in small communities, and outcome of ‘incentivizing’ recruitment into hard to recruit to communities.”
“Recruitment alone will not solve our health care workforce shortage – we need to retain staff and expand supply as well,” said the report.
In the coming years, the health authority expects an increase in retirement and departures, believing it will cause further strain on its workforce.
Northern Health’s workforce trends, and exit and stay interviews, show that healthcare workers are leaving the organization at a similar rate to recruitment.
“Close to 50 per cent of all NH new hires are new graduates, professionals that require enhanced support, orientation, and mentoring – especially in rural remote areas.”
The health authority has posted 3971 non-casual positions in the 2022/2023 fiscal year to date. Of those postings, 59 per cent were filled internally, and 9 per cent were filled externally within 90 days.
If positions aren’t filled within 90 days of the posting, they are considered difficult-to-fill vacancies. According to the report, around 17 per cent of postings become DTFV annually.
As of January 24th, 2023, 179 open positions in the northeast were considered difficult-to-fill vacancies, mainly nursing positions.
“The number of Advanced Hire positions NH use as a recruitment strategy has contributed to the increased number of DTFV.”
Casual hires are not reflected in this data, said the report.
“On average, the health authority hires 1,100 casuals per year, and many of these staff successfully bid into permanent, ongoing positions through our internal posting process.”
Northern Health has several rural programs and incentives to try and recruit and retain healthcare workers. Recently, Energeticcity spoke with Northern Health about what is being done to combat these issues in the northeast.
The full agenda package, featuring the human resources report, presented to the Northern Health Board of Directors on Monday can be read below:
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