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Nunavut Government hopes survey helps guide its strategy for retaining nurses

The Government of Nunavut (GN) on August 17 published the 2021 Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut (RNANTNU) Nurse Retention and Recruitment Survey, giving insight into the challenges the territory has with regards to recruiting and maintaining its nursing staff.
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Nunavut Health Minister John Main says the 2021 RNANTNU survey will help better determine how to meet Nunavut’s nursing needs. NNSL file photo

The Government of Nunavut (GN) on August 17 published the 2021 Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut (RNANTNU) Nurse Retention and Recruitment Survey, giving insight into the challenges the territory has with regards to recruiting and maintaining its nursing staff.

“Back in February, the Department of Health released its ‘Roadmap’ to Strengthen the Nunavut Nursing Workforce, which aims to help us build a strong and vibrant nursing community,” said Nunavut Health Minister John Main.

“Today RNANTNU’s 2021 nursing survey will allow us to listen to our staff’s guidance to determine how to better meet their needs. This feedback will help us fulfil the goals of recruitment and retention strategies.”

With the territory facing both the challenges of a global nursing crunch and staffing remote isolated communities, the report seeks to see what concerns Nunavut nurses have and the problems they face.

A total of 328 Nunavut nurses were respondents to the survey, 64.8 per cent of which were registered nurses (RNs) and 24.5 per cent licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

According to the report, the GN still has a long way with regards to retaining its nursing staff, with 46.4 per cent of nurses having considered leaving the profession entirely within the last two years. Only 29 per cent of respondents also identified Nunavut as their permanent place of residence, with 66.9 per cent of Nunavut nurses identifying Ontario, BC, Alberta, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador as their homes.

In terms of the recruitment process, just over half of nurses in the survey reported having received an orientation at 55.5 per cent.

Among the listed problems facing Nunavut nurses found in the reports conclusion are heavy workloads, a lack of a work-life balance, insufficient staffing numbers and the management of workplace violence.

Burnout and stress are being experienced by nurses who feel there is a “lack of support and appropriate response from management”. It also lists off possible future considerations with ‘almost half’ of Nunavut nurses planning to retire within the next 10 years, 30 per cent of which are in the next five.

Nunavut’s Department of Health said the survey outlines a number of key areas they hope to address.

These areas include:

- Working conditions

- Access to training and workplace development

- Workloads

- Housing

- Workplace safety