OR Nursing Shortage

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OR Nursing Shortage


Since September, Regina General Hospital’s (RGH’s) operating room has experienced a shortage of operating room (OR) nurses.

The shortage is due to a number of factors, some of which were unanticipated. These include multiple simultaneous maternity leaves; retirements; churn, in part because of high call demands placed on OR nurses; an inability to recruit OR nurses; high competition for the limited number of training seats in Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s OR nursing course; the 12-month length of the training program; and the lengthy orientation process once the OR nurses start working.

Beginning in mid-September, RGH closed one operating room one day per week to alleviate some of the pressures resulting from this situation. Despite perceptions, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region (RQHR) continues to be on track to meet its target of 25,250 surgeries for the 2017-18 fiscal year. As of Oct. 6, RQHR has 1.25 more available ORs overall than in the spring of this year. Continued efficiencies in the provision of services have made this possible.

Ensuring we have a full complement of OR nursing staff is important to us. Last year, although we were fully staffed in both ORs, we pro-actively created a multi-site float pool to ensure OR nurses would be available for shifts at both Regina General and Pasqua hospitals. We also had six more nurses over and above our baseline requirements enrolled in Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s OR nursing program to provide staffing relief upon their return to RQHR. Since RGH’s OR nursing shortage became apparent this fall, we have taken measures to recruit and train new staff and address churn, including posting internally and externally for OR nurses; contracting with a travel nurse agency to provide staffing relief; and brokering an arrangement with Saskatchewan Polytechnic to deliver additional training outside of the main program. We currently have nine registered nurses and six licensed practical nurses enrolled in Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s OR nursing programs. Staffing numbers are expected to stabilize when these nurses graduate, between April and September of 2018.

During the interim, we will continue to work with physicians and nursing staff to stabilize churn and address your concerns. We recognize this is a difficult time and appreciate your patience.

Submitted by: Sandy Euteneier, Executive Director, Surgical Services