Out of all my experiences at hospitals – either for myself or with loved ones – nurses have consistently been a positive and comforting presence, making the time there easier. It always amazes me how much empathy can be shared even though nurses are under immense and unrelenting pressure.

I want to note, I don’t fault the doctor for the tone taken. Everyone is allowed to have a bad day.

In light of our current healthcare crisis, I do wonder where the appreciation for nurses for the other 51 weeks of the year has gone. Three years ago, we were standing on our porches and street corners nightly, banging pots and pans to show our appreciation and support for nurses. What happened? The difficulties they face haven’t diminished. If anything, I think they need our support now more than ever.

Although the World Health Organization downgraded COVID-19 from a global pandemic and public health emergency last week, the state of our public health care is still very much in a crisis.

Why did we stop using our voices to support nurses?

Movement is being made in the right direction to alleviate some of the pressure. Last month, the provincial government announced the intention to set nurse-to-patient ratios – the first of its kind in Canada. While this will ultimately result in a better standard of care for patients and a better work environment for nurses, it also increases the number of nurses required.

With nursing shortages already resulting in healthcare closures, it will be interesting to see how this will be addressed. For its part, the province plans to ramp up national and international recruitment and to spend $108.6 million a year to create new clinical mentorship positions to support new graduate nurses, internationally trained nurses and nurses changing jobs.

The province will also expand a program that allows nursing students to take part-time positions in the health system while attending school.

But as a February 2023 op-ed by a nurse highlights, nurses need support now, while the system plays catch up.

“Many nurses are operating under conditions of exhaustion and moral distress because they know what excellent care looks like but feel unable to provide it due to the overload. While the nursing shortage and problems with recruitment and retention were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, they are not new. Nursing has been raising the alarm on these issues for decades.”

The nurse suggests gaps in policy-making are impacting the profession in a significant way and said it’s “crucial to have nurses in senior leadership positions in policy portfolios that affect health, including housing, children and families, finance, education and advanced education, environment, labour, mental health and addictions and poverty reduction.”

It only makes solid sense an integrated approach to policy would translate into an integrated approach to health care (as I discussed last week).

Is there a nurse you want to give a shout out to? How has a nurse made an impact in your life? Share your message and appreciation using the hashtag #HeyNurse on social media. Then keep using your voice to appreciate and advocate.


Editor’s Note: This opinion piece reflects the views of its author, and does not necessarily represent the views of CFJC Today or Pattison Media.


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