We must improve the working conditions of nurses, pleads a report

Money will not solve all the ills nurses face every day. There is “urgent need to act” to improve their working conditions and enhance their skills, plead the two commissioners who unveiled a report on Thursday at the end of general surveys on the profession.

“Of all that we have heard, there was never any question of money from nurses or people who submitted briefs and opinions, comments Robert Salois, one of the two commissioners, in conference. Press. Read the report carefully to find out what bothers and prevents nurses from doing all the things they are supposed to do. [faire]. »

Her colleague Francine Ducharme agrees. Nurses do not go to the private system necessarily for monetary questions, nuance one who is also an honorary professor at the Faculty of Nursing of the University of Montreal. Working conditions, including hours, are taken into account. “It is obvious that if we do not have recognition at work, we do not want to stay in the public system. “

The report’s release comes at a time when the shortage of nurses in the public network and the unhappiness at work that many say they feel is catching up with the government of Francois Legault. The Prime Minister said “work day and night” to find solutions. He opened the door to an increase in the remuneration of nurses to attract those who have turned to the private sector.

Mr. Salois said that the commissioners’ report, which has 31 recommendations, looks at long-term issues. “It does not contradict important actions that need to be taken today in the short term,” adds the former Commissioner for Health and Welfare to the Government of Quebec.

Nurses “are suffering,” he warns. The 104-page report, which represents the culmination of a six-month exercise and the consultation of 106 opinions and briefs, gives them the floor. “It’s a way of explaining to managers of the health system, but also to the population, what nurses have been through for a long time in relation to their valuation. “

Improvement of working conditions

Quebec must improve the working conditions of nurses by adopting a series of standards across the province, ask the two commissioners.

“We believe that it is essential for health establishments to demonstrate a real desire to put an end to organizational dysfunctions and to create conditions favorable to the promotion and use of the skills of nurses”, perhaps. read in the report.

Among the measures proposed, we ask to stabilize the care teams by avoiding “as much as possible” the use of employment agencies. It is suggested to establish a maximum number of hours of work that can be done per day and per week.

It would also be necessary to better plan the composition of the teams according to the needs of different types of clientele. It is also suggested that a nurse-patient ratio be introduced “to provide the right care, at the right time, to the right person”.

Mandatory university education

Another key recommendation is to make the baccalaureate the only diploma giving access to a permit to practice the profession in Quebec within five years.

The DEC-Baccalaureate course would be another avenue for obtaining a permit to practice, but it would still require university training. The commissioners recommend transitional measures for students who are currently taking college training as well as for some 32,000 nurses (43% of the profession) who hold a DEC.

There is no reason to fear that the requirement for a university education will harm the attraction of students, believes Mr. Salois. He notes that enrollment in university programs increased 45% in Alberta and 60% in British Columbia when the two western provinces increased their training criteria.

Behind the recommendation for university training is the broader principle of recognizing the skills of nurses. The Law provides 17 for activities reserved for them. “The exercise clearly demonstrated that the skills and knowledge of nurses are not being used to their full potential,” laments Ms. Ducharme.

“Concretely, this means that they continue to provide procedural care that could be performed by other members of the care team. It is then the whole meaning given to their work that is affected ”, she continues.

A shortage questioned

Despite the shortage in hospitals, the number of practicing nurses is on the rise, according to the commissioners’ report. They are 74,467 in 2020-2021, against 69,776 in 2015-2016. “Objectively, there is reason to believe that we are not short of nurses, but rather of nursing,” write the commissioners in their report.

The stake would therefore be on the side of the organization of work, still according to the commissioners. “If nurses actually do what they are allowed to do and move away from what others can do, the problem of shortage could be resolved. “

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