While the province has a shortage of nurses, post-secondary institutes such as Saskatchewan Polytechnic are looking to replenish those positions. 

SaskPolytech’s nursing program is full for the fall and, according to Christa MacLean, Dean of Nursing, they usually receive three and a half times more applicants for their Registered Nurse program than the available number of seats. 

During the March budget, the provincial government announced the expansion of 150 nursing seats in Saskatchewan, including 83 additional seats for SaskPolytech. 

“So, for the RN program, combined with the U of R, we are increasing by 62 RN seats for fall ’22 and we're getting 16 more psychiatric nursing seats at SaskPolytech, and we're adding five nurse practitioner seats,” MacLean said. 

If there is such a demand to get into post-secondary nursing programs, why is there a shortage of nurses?

MacLean said they have received requests for transcripts out-of-province for students after they graduate, but she added that it is hard to say as there really isn’t much of a follow-up other than a survey put out by the school. She said they are doing what they can to keep nurses in the province. 

Psychiatric nursing students have work terms at the Dr. F.H. Wigmore Hospital in Moose Jaw in years two and three, while those in the registered nursing degree program spend time at the Moose Jaw hospital in years two and four. 

“The research has shown us that when they do their clinical and they have a good experience and rich clinical experiences that the chances of them staying getting a job there are quite high. So, we try to use Moose Jaw as much as possible for clinical placements,” MacLean said. 

According to the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses, there are at least 600 nursing vacancies in the province and at least an eight per cent vacancy rate.