Building the Future of Nursing in Quebec

We must seize the opportunity to change the health plan proposed by Minister Christian Dubé

Posted at 10:00 am

William Tessier

William Tessier
Spokesperson for the Alliance for the Future of Nursing in Quebec, and more than 20 other signatories*

On this International Nurses Day, the Alliance for the Future of Nursing in Quebec, a group of more than 20 nursing associations and experts, wants to highlight the contribution of our profession to health care to meet the needs of the population. We also want to show our ambitions for future generations of nurses.

In light of the aging population, the COVID-19 pandemic and the needs of patients and the network, improving the initial training of future members of our profession is one way to meet these challenges. By having all the knowledge necessary to provide care in all areas of care, the next generations who will join our profession will be able to contribute fully to the necessary reorganization of the Quebec health care system.

A powerful lever for better access

In 2022, there is a consensus that access to health care can only be based on doctors. Other health professionals, including nurses, can help. The knowledge of university-trained nurses is already being put to good use at the primary care access desks (GAP) by referring orphaned patients to the appropriate healthcare provider. In many healthcare settings, they can also conduct a full assessment of their patients’ condition and prescribe treatments, in addition to performing technical procedures that are often essential to respond to cases that do not require medical intervention.

Upgrading the initial training also allows us to envision new models that would sustainably transform and improve access to care for users and their loved ones.

The development of the role of health care qualified family nurse in the clinic or at home, the deployment of nursing clinics consisting of baccalaureate holders and specialized practice nurses, and care services in rural areas that require a high degree of autonomy in practice are becoming possible. The next generation of nurses will also be able to contribute to the inevitable evolution towards telecare and community management.

Attracting the next generation and taking action to promote nurses

Contrary to popular belief, the increase in training requirements makes it possible to foresee a significant increase in the number of graduates after its entry into force. Ontario, which requires a baccalaureate degree, increased the number of new nurses by 197% between 2005 and 2018 after such a reform. Similar scenarios were repeated in British Columbia and French-speaking Switzerland, where the number of female graduates increased by 86% and 231% respectively over a comparable period. These three jurisdictions largely outnumbered Quebec, where the number of female graduates increased by only about 10% in those same years.

Positive effects can also be observed within the health network. A level of education is positively related to better retention of the workforce, lower absenteeism and turnover among nurses. In addition, it is a predictor of job satisfaction through reduced role ambiguity and increased ability to play a role within care teams.

An established trend

Changing the standard of entry into the nursing profession is a necessary development based on important trends in the profession. With 52% of the baccalaureate nurses in Quebec, the profession now has a majority of clinicians. They make a real contribution to emergency care, intensive care, gerontology and mental health, home care and many other care settings reserved for them.

The next generation of nurses is also recognizing the contribution of a college education to their practice with their patients. In 2020-2021, nearly 60% of new CEGEP graduates, or more than 1,300 people, continued their studies at university as part of the DEC-BAC gateway. In some regions, such as Bas-Saint-Laurent and Chaudière-Appalaches, the DEC-BAC prosecution rate reaches 75%.

further together

Let’s be clear, the Alliance supports the maintenance of the two training pathways to achieve the title of nurse, namely the undergraduate nursing degree at the university and the integrated DEC-BAC program. Colleges and universities are now offered all over Quebec and gateways for DEC-BAC already exist. Future nurses will be able to choose a path that suits them to start their training, but they will enter the labor market with the same knowledge background.

Quebec has all the leverage to make this shift a success and we can draw inspiration from examples elsewhere to make our own transition a success. The evidence on the effects of comprehensive nursing education on health outcomes, attractiveness of the profession and access to care is well established. Action is needed now to build tomorrow’s nursing care.

* Co-signers: Jennifer-Liselotte Philogenepresident of the Alliance of Black Nurses of Canada – Quebec Chapter; Kathleen Lechasseurpresident of the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing for the Quebec Region (ACESI-RQ); rinda hartnerpresident of the Association of Nurses’ Councils of Quebec (ACIIQ); Gino Bouchardpresident of the Association of Emergency Nurse Managers of Quebec (AGIUQ); Natasha Desmarteaupresident of the Association of Infection Control Nurses (AIPI); Guillaume Fontainepresident of the Association of Emergency Nurses of Quebec (AIIUQ); Sylvain Brousseaupresident of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA); Christine Lalibertepresident of the Association of Specialist Nurses of Quebec (AIPSQ); Maryse Carignanpresident of the Quebec Association of Oncology Nurses (AQIO); Marie Claude Jacquespresident of the Quebec Association of Nurses (AQII); Pierre-Luc Derydirector of the Quebec Association of Gerontological Nurses (AQIIG); jessica rassypresident of the Quebec Association of Mental Health Nurses (AQIISM); Eric Mailletpresident of the Quebec Association of Nurses in Information Systems and Technologies (AQIISTI); Charles Bilodeauchairman of the Youth Committee of the OIIQ; Julie Poirierchairman of the OIIQ Section Council; Nicole Ricardchairman of the Quebec Nursing Consultation and Influence Group; Sylvie Gagnonpresident of the Quebec Pharmacy Nurses; Mario BruleaChairman, Nurses Without Borders; Luc MatthewPresident of the Order of Nurses of Quebec (OIIQ); Deyna-Marie L’HeureuxPresident of the Regional Order of Nurses Bas-Saint-Laurent/Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine; Caroline Riopelpresident of the Association of Intensive Care Nurses of Quebec; Helene TetreaultPresident of the Association of Nurses First Assistants in Surgery

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