January 25, 2008
Scott: Worldwide nurse shortage good for SVG

About 100 nurses are set to benefit annually from the chronic worldwide shortage of nurses.

Officials from the Beth Abraham Family of Health Services in New York are in the process of recruiting no fewer than 25 local nurses.{{more}} Meanwhile, health officials here are actively seeking to secure other opportunities for the large surplus of nurses expected to graduate from the nursing school annually.

According to Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Audrey Scott, there is an excess of 110 nurses for the available space in the local system, with only 30 of the 140 trained and registered nurses being retained in the system.

In 2003, the Ministry of Health anticipated the worldwide nursing shortage, Minister of Health Douglas Slater claims, hence the increase of nurses that were trained annually at the nursing school, from 25 to 100.

There are over 400 nurses currently at various levels of training.

“We have had inquires from Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad about our nurses,” said Scott, who told SEARCHLIGHT that the Ministry is confident that they will be able to attract overseas interest in the surplus nurses.

She explained that interest from overseas has always been there, but now, with the Ministry’s direction, the migration of nurses will be managed, so as not to create a void in the local system.

Worldwide, statistics indicate that there should be no difficulty in finding a market for nurses.

The Health Resources and Services Administration in the United States estimates that if present trends continue, America will have a shortage of one million nurses by 2010.

Some 42,000 nursing hopefuls were turned away by American nursing schools because of a shortage of faculty, clinical sites, and classrooms. Another key contributing factor to this problem is that by 2010, it is expected that 40 percent of the American nursing workforce will be over 50 years old.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lanceford Weekes says that other groups of hospitals in the United States are making inquires about recruiting nurses. The grim situation is no different in Canada.

There could be a shortage of over 100,000 nurses in the Canadian health system, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) reported last December.

“More Canadian nurses are leaving the profession and fewer are seeing it as a viable option,” the CNA says.

Opportunities within the region also abound.

Communications official in Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health, Martin Forde told SEARCHLIGHT that there is a current shortage of over 300 nurses in the twin island state.

While he could not say if there were plans to look towards this country as an option to solve the growing crisis, he said that over the last four years, they have been recruiting nurses from the Philippines and have approached Cuba for assistance.

“I am, however, not aware of any representation to St Vincent and the Grenadines as yet,” Forde told SEARCHLIGHT.

However, Weekes told SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week that CNO Scott has been holding dialogue with Trinidadian officials about that possibility. He said that arrangements are more advance with regard to Barbados, as that country has made several requests already to St Vincent and the Grenadines for nurses.

“Two years ago Barbados made a request for fifty nurses,” he said.