Many people dream of a career in healthcare and most of them actually go through with it, enrolling in healthcare post-secondary programs, getting training in their desired field, or getting experience as volunteers. However, there’s another group of people that don’t get to fulfill that dream, and it often happens because they can’t see enough work opportunities in the regions where they live, which discourages them. In this article, we will try to help two groups of healthcare workers living in Ontario to decide if pursuing these careers is for them. We will talk about PSWs and nurses, and where they might find work opportunities in the province.
In Ontario, estimates point out that there are over 100,000 PSWs (personal support workers) currently employed. That number is expected to grow significantly due to the local government's current accelerated personal support worker program, which is aiming to solve the shortage of caregivers across the province generated by the pandemic.
Read More: All About PSW (personal support worker) Jobs
Ontario has about the same number of regulated nurses, out of the 439,975 that the Canadian Nurses Association says there was in 2019 in the entire country. This number includes nurse practitioners (NPs), registered nurses (RNs), registered practical nurses (RPNs), and registered psychiatric nurses. The province is also investing in nursing programs in the hopes of decreasing the shortages of these healthcare workers. The local government recently announced a $35-million investment in nursing education programs, projecting to add 2,000 nurses to the healthcare system.
Considering the caregiving and nursing shortages that the province and the entire country are facing, it is safe to say that future PSWs and nurses have great opportunities of finding employment in their desired fields right after graduation. Proof of this is that the most recent Labour Force Survey conducted by Statistics Canada indicates that back in November 2020 "health care and social assistance had a higher job vacancy rate than all other industries and accounted for more than one-fifth (112,700) of all job vacancies (not seasonally adjusted);" a trend that continued during the following months.
Most PSWs in Ontario work in long-term care centers and, as of March 2021, there are 627 long-term care homes in the province, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information. The number of facilities is expected to increase as the Canadian population continues to age and more people turn 65 years of age.
PSWs also work providing home health care for home care agencies to seniors and people with special needs. This is another employment area that is set to develop even more thanks to the province’s Aging at Home Strategy, which is working to help people get all the healthcare and support they need in their own homes instead of relocating to a long-term care home or visiting a hospital.
For PSWs that prefer a hybrid between working at a long-term care home and providing home care, there are also many work opportunities through healthcare agencies that provide a wider range of services to their clients, which benefits workers because it adds diversity to their workload.
PSW jobs also find in hospitals, where PSWs support other healthcare workers like nurses, lightening their load by attending to those patients that need extra care and support. This trend seems to be progressing as hospitals find that is very cost-effective for them, especially these days when so many people visit hospitals looking for healthcare services and staff is never enough. This means that experienced PSWs will be able to get more and more jobs in hospitals and enjoy the benefits that come with this type of employment.
It is safe to say that PSWs have numerous employment and career development opportunities in Ontario in the foreseeable future. Because of this many caregivers in this field will be able to get plenty of experience in different settings to decide where they would like to stay and establish their careers in the long run.
The Canadian Nurses Association has interesting data about the percentage of regulated nurses in the entire country by employment setting that says 58.5% of them work in hospitals, 15.6% work in community health, 15.5% work in long-term care homes, and the remaining 10.5% work in other employment settings. Their statistics also reveal that 58% of the nursing workforce is employed full-time, 32% is employed part-time, and 10% is employed on a casual basis. These numbers are from 2019.
In Ontario, nurses follow the same pattern, with many of them being employed by the general hospitals in the province. The rest work in specialized facilities, like psychiatric, acute care hospitals, or rehabilitation hospitals.
Many nurses in Ontario also work in community care centers, which are organizations that provide primary health services in the community, followed by referrals to other healthcare facilities. Others work in hospices, nursing homes or home care agencies, and long-term care facilities, where they usually provide supervision to other staff members, like PSWs, and execute the care plans designed by physicians for patients.
Some nurses work at physician’s offices, family practice units, or walk-in clinics, where they provide primary care, or they work for public health departments, associations, unions, elementary and secondary schools, or postsecondary educational organizations that offer nursing programs.
A smaller group of nurses have found employment in industries and businesses, especially those with a large number of employees that need constant health education, preventive care, and primary care, as well. Another group of nurses is self-employed, offering their services to their own patients at home or at their private practices.
The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) says that currently, the province’s nursing ratio is 72 nurses to every 100,000 people, which falls behind the nation’s average of 83 to every 100,000, meaning that "nurses are needed more than ever in Ontario." Because of this reality, plus the current shortages generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the diversity of employment settings they can access, nurses will continue to have a promising future in Ontario and in the rest of the country.
In conclusion, PSWs and Nurses have ample opportunities to work and excel in the healthcare field. The main issue these healthcare workers are currently facing is not necessarily a lack of employment, but maybe a lack of full-time jobs and better wages. Overall, these caregivers are working in one of the most desirable fields in the labour market at the moment and it can certainly be said that this is a good moment for anyone with a passion for helping others to pursue a career in healthcare.
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