New nurses find work with Vancouver Island Health Authority

Temporary employment program gives new RNs a start

It’s not the “every Island grad hired” commitment made by former CEO Howard Waldner, but the Vancouver Island Health Authority continues to open its doors to nursing grads in the region.

VIHA announced this week that 119 of this year’s estimated crop of around 250 new registered nurses at Island universities will be hired by the health authority.

Of those, 69 will be given temporary full-time employment at Victoria General, Royal Jubilee or Saanich Peninsula hospitals, or at VIHA’s home and community care health units in the region as part VIHA’s New Graduate Transition Program.

“I’m excited for the new grads and for the opportunities they have,” said Joanne Maclaren, director for practice services with VIHA. “This is just a starting point to get them in the door and supported and transitioned into that full nursing role.”

Registered nurse students, including those studying at the University of Victoria, already work in the hospitals as part of their practicum education, but hiring them to positions “feels like just an extension of that,” Maclaren said.

Over and above the 119 full-time hires, dozens more grads will be offered casual positions within VIHA, she added.

Last year roughly 200 new nurses were hired under the VIHA transition program, the most since it began in 2005. That was part of a promise made by Waldner to hire as many grads as possible from the Island, as a way of keeping nurses here when permanent positions came available.

This year the health authority returned to its strategy of slotting in new grads only in areas where relief was needed, Maclaren said.