Alberta Health Services (AHS) ramps up recruitment from abroad to strengthen its healthcare workforce, particularly in rural areas.
In a bid to address the province’s nursing shortage, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has announced the arrival of about 70 internationally educated nurses from around 15 countries. These nurses are part of a concentrated effort by the health authority to bolster its rural health services and workforce.
A Step Toward Strengthening Rural Health
The nurses, who are screened and assessed rigorously to ensure they meet Alberta’s standards, will be deployed to 30 AHS sites that have been identified with the most critical staffing needs. Predominantly, they will be starting in rural communities across central and northern Alberta. These locations encompass a range of healthcare facilities from hospitals and community health centres to long-term care facilities.
Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health, expressed enthusiasm about the initiative, remarking, “Our government is committed to removing barriers for internationally educated nurses to work in Alberta, and it’s exciting to see the results of our efforts paying off.”
Future Recruitments and Integration
Further, about 70 more nurses are expected to arrive in the subsequent six months as they complete the immigration process. A steady influx in cohorts is anticipated over the next couple of years.
AHS President and CEO Mauro Chies emphasized the significance of these new additions. “They’ll benefit our rural sites immensely, which have experienced crucial staffing needs in recent years. Our existing workforce — the staff who’ve have been with us all along — are just as vital. Supporting them and helping them welcome these new team members are also part of our work to strengthen our workforce and system for Albertans.”
Stacy Greening, Chief Zone Officer for AHS North Zone, highlighted how even a single new nursing position can be transformative for rural areas. Janice Stewart, Chief Zone Officer for AHS Central Zone, echoed these sentiments and looked forward to a warm integration for the newcomers.
Building on Past Efforts
This recruitment drive builds upon a series of initiatives launched last year by AHS to attract nurses from across the globe. Thousands of applications were received as a result.
Fadumo Robinson, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, leading the international recruitment and integration efforts, remarked, “These nurses have answered the call from across the globe, and they’re bringing a great deal of skill and experience with them.”
AHS also has plans afoot to recruit nurses for ICUs and emergency departments in urban centres, in alignment with the AHS’ comprehensive health workforce strategy.
Addressing Broader Trends
This move comes in the backdrop of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions’ (CNFU) recent announcement to study the increasing trend of Canadian nurses opting to work for private agencies, and its subsequent impact on the public healthcare system.
Internationally educated nurses currently with AHS, either as licensed practical nurses or healthcare aides, are also being given support to upgrade their skills to registered nurse status.
Alberta Health Services, the provincial health authority, remains committed to offering accessible and quality health services to Albertans, focusing on improving various metrics, including emergency department wait-times and EMS response times.