New practical nurse training seats will help ease nursing shortage

News release

HEU pleased with government’s broad-based approach

The Hospital Employees’ Union says today’s announcement by the provincial government of 89 new training spaces for Licenced Practical Nurses (LPNs) is a positive move that will help ease B.C.’s chronic nursing shortage.

“We’re really pleased with the initiative,” says Zorica Bosancic, the union’s assistant secretary-business manager. “Expanded roles and training opportunities for LPNs is clearly part of a broad-based team approach that includes Registered Nurses and Care Aides that will result in better nursing care for British Columbians.”

Bosancic, whose union represents 4,500 LPNs and 13,000 Care Aides in B.C. hospitals and long-term care facilities, says the new seats for this fall mean that government has almost doubled LPN training positions in two years. “Our union has argued that there’s no single magic solution for dealing with the shortage,” she said. “Ensuring that we have enough nurses at the bedside means government, employers and unions need to work together to develop a variety of solutions relying on the skills and potentials of all the members of the nursing team.”

LPNs complete a 12-month training program compared to a two-year RN diploma program. An LPN’s scope of practice or skills base overlaps 60 per cent with that of an RN’s.

Bosancic was particularly pleased that 32 of the additional training spaces will be allocated for a new program at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George. “Health care facilities in the North rely more on LPNs in their nursing mix than other parts of the province,” she said. “So the fact that there will be a new training program in Prince George is a move that will benefit all communities in the region.”

And she says HEU will continue to work with the Ministry of Advanced Education to get new LPN programs up and running at colleges in Victoria, Terrace and Dawson Creek for the 2002 academic year.

Bosancic says her union has been pressing government and employers to increase utilization of LPNs as a logical solution to the nursing shortage. While over the last 15 years B.C. has poorest record of LPN utilization of any province in Canada, she says HEU has worked successfully with Victoria to expand training opportunities and create 320 new LPN positions in hospitals and long-term care facilities over the last two years.