by Heidi Riley
As part of Canada Career Month, a presentation was held at Career Development Services in Charlottetown detailing the jobs available in the PEI healthcare system.
“In 2018, PEI saw a 1.8 percent annual population growth, which was the highest provincial growth rate in Canada, alongside Ontario,” says Rebecca Gill, Manager, Recruitment and Retention Secretariat, PEI Department of Health and Wellness.
“With this increase, services are expanding to meet various needs, and we need more staff to support that expansion. Having access to appropriate bilingual services is also vital to providing patient-centered care in many Island communities.”
Currently, close to 6,300 people work for Health PEI, including permanent, temporary or casual staff. Health PEI employs:
- Family Medicine and Specialist Physicians
- Registered Nurses (RNs), Nurse Practitioners (NPs), and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)
- Resident Care Workers (RCWs), and Patient Care Workers (PCWs)
- Allied health professions such as Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Respiratory Therapists, Social Workers, and Psychologists
- Administrative positions.
Areas of employment in healthcare
- Acute care: Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Prince County Hospital
- Mental Health and Addictions programs: “Many Health PEI programs and services have expanded in this area over the past number of years,” says Rebecca.
- Long-term care facilities: eg. Prince Edward Home, Wedgewood Manor, Colville Manor
- Community hospitals: Western Hospital, Community Hospital in O’Leary, Kings County Memorial Hospital, and Souris Hospital
- Home care across the province
- Acute mental health facility: Unit 9 at QEH, and Unit 3 at Hillsborough Hospital
- Primary care: Health centres and disease management programs
Positions in high demand
Rebecca listed some of the positions that are currently in high demand: Family Medicine Physicians, Specialist Physicians, Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Resident Care Workers, Patient Care Workers, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers, and Nurse Practitioners.
“There isn’t a day that goes by where members of our team are not talking to someone about recruiting for those areas. We are currently seeking qualified health professionals who can fill these vacancies within PEI’s healthcare system.
“Based on an aging population in Canada and baby boomer generation retirements, the demand for workers in the continuing care sector will outpace the growth of the general labour force,” says Rebecca. “Projected job growth in overall nursing jobs in Canada is 3.4 percent to 2035.”
Resident Care/Patient Support Workers
“We are seeing a large increase in the need for RCWs, who work in long-term care facilities and home care services, and PCWs, who work in acute hospital settings. We anticipate a continuous need for more RCWs for the next 15 to 20 years, based on the current workforce demographics and the aging Island population.”
Collège de l’Île, Margaret Connolly Training & Consulting, and Holland College offer RCW certificate programs with classroom and practical work experience placements. “Graduates of these programs are highly sought after and will be valuable additions to the healthcare system,” says Rebecca.
The starting salary for an RCW working in a provincial facility is about $22/hour. “New hires tend to enter the health system as casual employees, but there is so much opportunity for employment, many soon apply for and are successful in finding full-time work, which includes vacation, sick leave, maternity, long-term disability, health and dental, and pension benefits. The work is very demanding, but also very rewarding.”
Licensed Practical Nurses
“The province has hired many LPN graduates who wish to stay and work on PEI,” says Rebecca. New hires are offered casual or sometimes temporary positions before applying for and accepting permanent positions.
Holland College offers a two-year LPN diploma program with a practicum component. Graduates must pass an exam in order to be licensed to work as an LPN on PEI.
A four-year and a two-year accelerated Bachelor of Nursing program is offered at UPEI. Graduates must pass a national exam to be licensed to practice as an RN on PEI.
The Department of Health and Wellness launched a new nursing incentive program for new graduate RNs, graduate NPs, experienced RNs, and experienced NPs. Graduate RNs are offered a lump sum payment, two years of guaranteed full-time work, benefits, seniority, and a preference for work settings. After two years, they can remain in that position or apply for another opportunity. Experienced RNs and NPs new to the province are offered a lump sum in exchange for a return in service commitment.
“There was strong interest right across the country when the incentive program was launched, and we are still seeking more nurses to fill vacant opportunities within the health system,” says Rebecca.
“Many of our present nursing workforce are at an age when they are taking maternity leaves, which is resulting in more temporary vacancies and opportunities.”
As of 2019, Health PEI employed approximately 35 Nurse Practitioners. This number has grown significantly over the last few years, with more NPs taking on vital roles within the healthcare system.
An RN can take two more years of Masters level training to become a Nurse Practitioner. NPs have a larger scope of practice than RNs.
Medical Device Reprocessing Technicians
This position involves cleaning and sterilizing medical equipment. Training is offered through 24 weeks of distance education and 400 hours of unpaid practicum.
Administrative Support Workers
“Admin Support is another area of demand right across government and health,” says Rebecca. “On PEI, training is offered by Holland College, Academy of Learning, and Collège de l’Île. These programs have an on-the-job training component, which offers valuable experience that benefits students when they seek career opportunities once their program is complete.
“You can start work as a casual or temporary administrative professional and apply for permanent opportunities within a reasonable amount of time. Thirty years ago, the market was flooded with this skill set, but that is not the case today. There is currently a large demand for skilled Administrative Support workers, and it can be challenging to fill these positions right across government and health, especially bilingual positions.”
“There are positions in government, health, and education,” says Rebecca. “Increased demand across the province for Social Workers speaks to the expansion of PEI’s mental health programs.”
Education includes a four-year undergraduate degree and Masters of Social Work degree.
Internationally educated health professionals
Internationally educated nurses who wish to work on PEI must submit all their credentials, and are assessed by a national body based on Canadian standards. They may be required to do partial retraining, additional clinical placements, or may need to start over and be completely trained as a nurse in an accredited Canadian nursing program.
“We see a tremendous number of Internationally Educated Nurses seeking employment. The College of Registered Nurses on PEI works closely with applicants to determine how the person can become licensable here on PEI, so they are employable by Health PEI.”
Applying for a healthcare position on PEI
“The PEI Public Service Commission is the hiring body for all provincial civil and healthcare jobs,” says Rebecca. “Seventy-five percent of the hiring they do is for healthcare positions. The health system is vast, with many great employment opportunities.”
Jobs posted at www.gov.pe.ca/jobspei list all employment opportunities available, including casual opportunities. In 2019, there were 387 external postings and 2,736 internal postings. After working one shift in the health system, casual workers may be eligible to apply to internal competitions for a temporary or permanent position.
“Applicants usually apply online, and all go through the selection process, including interviews, referencing, and sometimes a presentation or written component,” says Rebecca. “The interview is a structured conversation where the selection panel takes notes and asks about work experience, knowledge, organizational, interpersonal, and other relevant skills. For those who are successful through the interview component, references may be contacted.
“Once hired, employees enter a probationary period which allows the employer the opportunity to ensure they are a fit for the role. Employees are also provided with proper orientation and support as needed.”
Anyone with questions about healthcare jobs is welcome to call 902-620-3874 or email firstname.lastname@example.org