In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Northern Health is looking to fill more than 300 vacant nursing positions.
As of Monday morning, Northern Health's recruiting website had 236 positions listed for registered nurses (RNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs), 56 postings for licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and 11 jobs open for nurse practitioners. The job postings ranged from leadership positions such as two director of care positions based in Terrace and Smithers, to part-time and casual positions.
Of the 302 total nursing positions Northern Health is looking to fill, 89 were based in the Northeast — 78 RNs and RPNs, 9 LPNs, and one nurse practictioner position.
"Spring time is always the busy time of year for recruitment," Northern Health spokesperson Andrea Palmer said. "We use the postings to attract new graduates."
The number of postings isn't unusual for this time of year, Palmer said, but Northern Health is constantly looking to fill positions throughout the region.
"There are positions that are difficult to fill," Palmer said. "Often specialist nurses can be difficult to recruit."
Northern Health needs more than a dozen intensive care unit nurses, emergency room nurses, operating nurses and critical care nurses, along with other assorted specialists.
Palmer couldn't provide a total number of nursing positions across the health authority, but said Northern Health employees more than 7,000 people in total.
As part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Northern Health is getting in touch with retired health care workers who may want to come back to work to provide extra capacity to respond if the outbreak gets worse, she said.
"The provincial government has asked Northern Health, along with all the health authorities, to gather information on retired health professionals," Palmer said. "That is being coordinated with the governing bodies for those professions."
Specific numbers weren't available for Northern Health, but on April 7 Health Minister Adrian Dix said across the province 56 doctors, 880 nurses of various levels and specializations, and 33 workings allied health professions have come out of retirement to fight the pandemic.