An aging nursing workforce is creating a growing shortage of qualified candidates to fill the large number of anticipated retirements in the field.
By 2020, if no policy interventions are implemented, the country will be short almost 60,000 full-time RNs, according to the Canadian Nurses Association.
Education WORKS Champion Melissa Mancini Burbridge has taken a pragmatic approach to entering the health-care field.
“Step by step, Melissa is reaching all her goals,” said Tracey McInytre of Fanshawe College, who nominated Burbridge as an education champion. “She first had to realize what path to go down.”
After working in various industries, including restaurants, Melissa decided she “wanted a career, not just a job.” She visited Fanshawe College Community Career and Employment Services after being referred by a friend.
After narrowing down her skills, wants and needs, she decided to pursue nursing.
“She realized she wanted to work towards becoming a nurse but was hesitant to jump in and spend a lot of money,” said Tracey. “So she decided to do it step by step and take the PSW (personal support worker program) first.”
Melissa first received her high school equivalency through Fanshawe to qualify for the PSW course, which she finished in 2013.
While employed as a personal support worker at Brantford General Hospital, Melissa has returned to school to train as an RPN (registered practical nurse).
The 33-year-old juggles not just her job and studies, but care of her two children, aged seven and five.
“Going back to school with a young family posed significant challenges,” said Tracey. “Sometimes she had to rely on neighbours and friends to care for her children if her spouse was working and babysitters were unavailable.”
Halfway through the PSW course, Melissa’s husband’s company went on strike. To avoid having to drop out of college, she went to work full time while balancing her full-time studies.
In order to spend as much time with her young children as possible, Melissa tries to work mainly evenings and weekends.
After she finishes her RPN course she may consider further upgrades to become a registered nurse. “I hope it will be inspirational for my kids,” she said. “I want to teach them that sticking with school is a good thing.”
Tracey said Melissa is “the epitome of an education champion.” “She has consistently set high standards for herself while managing a home, family and part- and full-time jobs. She has been so supportive of other learners and provides positive feedback to all who want to make education part of their lives.”
Photo by Brian Thompson, Brantford Expositor