Nursing grads soar at Sunnybrook


New nurses are buzzing around Sunnybrook, as the hospital has undertaken the province’s Nursing Graduate Guarantee Initiative, offering nursing graduates across Ontario exciting opportunities to learn and grow while securing them full time employment.

For nurse Tess Mountain, the initiative means she’s currently working in her dream job: ”This is the mecca of where I wanted to get to, the place I wanted to be.” Currently working in the trauma and acute care areas at Sunnybrook, Tess graduated from Trent University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in the spring of 2007. “It’s phenomenal. I certainly think it’s because of the new grad initiatives. In addition, the support for new nursing graduates is so incredible here; especially because Sunnybrook is a teaching hospital, so everyone is so willing to explain things.”

“Our goal is to recruit nurses, and to keep them,” says Susan VanDeVelde-Coke, executive vice president Programs and Chief Health Professions & Nursing Executive at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “The new grad initiative helps to ensure new nurses are comfortable working in their unit, with their colleagues, physicians, and allied health professionals. The program allows new graduates a substantial orientation period which research indicates is key in retaining new staff.”

Sunnybrook hired 85 general nursing graduates, including both Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs). The hospital received its first group in June, and an additional four groups over the summer in acute care, cardiac care, Holland Centre orthopaedics, perinatal & gynaecology, long term care and various other medical/surgical units.

“Sunnybrook offered the best opportunity for me through the initiative in regards to training,” says Jen Smith, also a graduate working in the acute and trauma areas, with a BSN from the University of Windsor. “Sunnybrook is sending us to George Brown for a critical care training course in emergency nursing. We began in September for a few days a week, and received our certificates in November.”

Many new nursing graduates prefer full-time jobs but until recently, found it difficult to find them in Ontario. The Initiative assists graduates in gaining full-time experience, easing the transition into the workforce, and helping to ensure nursing grads remain working in Ontario.

 The implementation of the Nursing Graduate Guarantee Initiative commenced in the spring of 2007. The Ministry created an on-line job portal that is a meeting place for employers and new Ontario nursing graduates (RNs and RPNs). These job opportunities are in the hospital, long-term care, home care, mental health, public health, and primary care sectors. The process requires new graduates to register on the portal and they apply to jobs posted by employers. To date, over 2000 matches have been made through the HealthForceOntario Jobs portal.

 The Ministry provides a six-month salary plus benefits for every graduate. The hospitals provide and fund orientation, which takes place for a minimum of three months and includes education in clinical topics, intravenous skills, equipment training through simulation and assistance from nursing preceptors and mentors. For the first time, Sunnybrook standardized the orientation process so all nurses received the same education. Each hospital is also responsible to provide the nurses full-time employment somewhere within the hospital. After three months, if a full-time job is available and the nurse graduate is ready, they can go directly into a full-time job.

For both Tess and Jen, their applications went out in February/March, were called in for interviews and testing, and were hired in the spring. They began with orientation within a classroom environment, and were then brought on the floor and “buddied” to work alongside full-time nurses. “We worked with a lot of nurses, learning different techniques,” says Jen. “It’s great to know at the end of this program, we’ll have that much more experience and are guaranteed full-time work in the hospital somewhere.”

“We’re excited about this program and we’re grateful to the government for providing funding for it,” adds Sue Coke. “We hope the Ministry will continue the program; it has been a wonderful opportunity to hire, mentor and welcome new graduates into the Sunnybrook community.”