The dire shortage of nurses has plagued British Columbia's health care system long before the global pandemic. However, with nurses enduring the incredible stresses of this public health crisis for months now, many say they have reached their breaking point. In fact, BCNU's soon-to-be-released pandemic-focused member survey has revealed 35 percent of nurses say the pandemic has made them more likely to leave nursing in the next two years.
It is this concerning reality that is behind BCNU's latest television ad, which highlights the daily struggle on the frontlines – and the impact the nurse shortage is having on patient care.
"Our nurses have been working tirelessly to provide patient care at the expense of their own health. It's time that nurses receive the support and resources they require," says BCNU vice president Aman Grewal. "Nurses cannot sustain BC's health care system at the expense of their own mental and physical health any longer."
After over 18 months of the COVID-19 public health emergency, in addition to the ongoing opioid emergency in our province, dedicated nurses continue to be asked to do more and more with less and less. In some cases, nurses are leaving the profession entirely - creating more challenging working conditions.
Survey respondents shared their first-hand experiences of the desperate situation they face. "Short staffing and increased violence caused me to have a psychological crisis and I developed frightening physical symptoms. I felt that if I didn't leave my job, my job was going to kill me," said one member. "At the age of 31, I realized I cannot do this physically and mentally draining job for the rest of my life," said another.
"The current situation in our health care system is truly heartbreaking," adds Grewal. "More than three-quarters of nurses have told us their mental health has worsened during the pandemic; and over half have stated their physical health has deteriorated as well. Our health care system doesn't need more heroes – it needs more nurses."
In addition to this new ad campaign, BCNU is also calling on the public to speak up and speak out on behalf of nurses and the patients who depend on them. British Columbians are urged to engage with their elected officials and call for the urgent action.
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