A Comox Valley nursing graduate is miffed at the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) over its New Graduate Transition Program (NGTP).
The nursing grad — who wishes to remain anonymous for future career reasons — finished her bachelor of science degree in nursing program via North Island College (NIC) this spring.
She says she thought she would be accepted into VIHA’s NGTP — which includes temporary employment opportunities among other things. She adds her assumption stemmed from what VIHA human resources personnel told her class.
“They came to the classrooms and gave a presentation at the end of the year saying that there was going to be jobs for everybody,” says the nursing grad. “They gave resumé and workshop and job-seeking pointers, and then they told everybody that there’s going to be guaranteed jobs for all the graduates for 2013.”
The graduate did not get into the program and says she had to seek “emergency employment” in a different field to pay her bills, while she searches for a job off-Island.
“It feels like a step backwards instead of a step forwards,” she continues. “It’s pretty discouraging career-wise when you’re all excited and motivated to go do something but there’s not the same opportunity that you’re led to believe — I feel a little bit misled and betrayed.”
VIHA’s program for new nursing grads has been in place since 2005, and includes a temporary employment offering, plus support via mentorship opportunities, transitional workshops and orientation activities.
VIHA’s professional practice team oversees the program, and director Joanne Maclaren says there are 115 spots for this year’s Vancouver Island nursing grads — which includes Vancouver Island University and University of Victoria grads as well.
VIHA held two hiring fairs in April where students could apply to the program. According to Maclaren, 110 grads attended the hiring fair in Parksville and 143 grads attended the hiring fair in Victoria. She notes 45 of these attendees went to both hiring fairs.
She says VIHA human resources personnel present to nursing classes at NIC in January each year.
While Maclaren says the presentations touch on the grad transition program and other job opportunities within VIHA, she says the presenter would not have said there were guaranteed jobs for everyone.
“We don’t have information finalized around what our new grad program will look like, (when we present to classes), so we never commit to telling students information about what the program would entail or that we’ll hire all of them,” she says.
“Never would we have indicated we were hiring all students for this year.”
VIHA did offer places in the program to all nursing grads last year, but Maclaren says it was an irregular year. The number of spaces the program offered per year depends on the need for nurses within Island facilities and usually reflects the amount of funding allocated for mentorship.
“Last year, like I say, was a bit different where we stepped out of that box and we offered positions beyond what those mentorship dollars supported,” she says.
“We were looking to see if we could help offset some of the other relief coverage needs we had in those particular areas, so areas where there may be sick relief or vacation relief needs.”
Two hundred and thirteen grads took advantage of temporary employment through the program last year.
A news release about the program dated March 2012 says, “the Vancouver Island Health Authority is offering employment to all graduates of Vancouver Island registered nursing programs in 2012-13.”
Maclaren clarifies the employment offer to all grads was only for the 2012/2013 fiscal year, which ends in April and would not include the 2013 nursing grads.
For more information on the program, visit http://www.viha.ca/professional_practice/new_grad.htm.