CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Job fair targets Ontario nurses

By Diane Janes
Career Connection Editor

Here's a novel idea: Hold a job fair targeting Ontario student nurses and don't have any health-care organizations from the United States pitching their tents at it.

The Nurses4Ontario Student Nursing Career Fair -- hosted by St. Michael's Hospital in partnership with the Faculty of Nursing at Ryerson University -- did just that in January.
Sylvia Halliday and Elaine Burr of St Michael's Hospital present a $13,000 cheque to Canadian Nursing Student's Association representative Nicole Harris, a nursing student at Ryerson.

The job fair was a rousing success with over 400 student nurses and 39 organizations attending.

Supported by the College of Nurses of Ontario, Nurses4Ontario is a non-profit venture. Elaine Burr, who is now a recruiter at St. Michael's Hospital, initiated the venture because she was feeling frustrated with frequenting job fairs and competing with health-care organizations from the United States.

"It is always discouraging when you meet student nurses who are not aware of the many opportunities available to them in their own province," Burr says. "This career fair was unique because it was only open to Ontario recruiters and student nurses to specifically highlight nursing career opportunities in Ontario."

The competition to keep nurses in Canada is fierce, and with approximately 3,000 Ontario nursing graduates expected this year, Ontario health-care institutions are anxious to keep them here.

Laura Swain, a fourth-year nursing student at York University who attended the job fair, says the last few months before the fair were frustrating. Graduation was quickly approaching and the reality of finding full-time work in her chosen career was upon her.

"I had spent the last few months at numerous nursing job fairs, with no luck," she says. "Frankly, it has been frustrating because most of the recruiters at these fairs are from the United States -- an option that is not my first choice."

Due to the overwhelming support and interest for the event, Burr says she will be presenting the feedback to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. She is also planning to have another Nurses4Ontario event on Oct. 16, 2004.

"My goal is to hold Nurses4Ontario events twice a year," she says. "I would love for them to someday be referred to as 'the event' for student nurses in Ontario."

Profits from the job fair totalled $13,000, a cheque in that amount was presented to the Canadian Nursing Student's Association last week in a presentation held at St. Michael's Hospital.

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