By David Chilton
Special to the Toronto Sun
If you're a nurse or a nursing student, mark Saturday, Oct. 16 in your daytimer. That's the day the next Nurses 4 Ontario nursing fair is being held at Ryerson University in Toronto.
Sylvia Halliday (left) and Elaine Burr (centre) 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 money was raised from the Nurses 4 Ontario job fair last January.
Elaine Burr, who conceived and organized the first fair last January as a way to show student nurses they need not head off to the U.S. or go further afield to develop their careers, says this time Nurses 4 Ontario has a twin focus: nursing students and RNs and RPNs who are considering returning to the profession.
Burr says there are lots of nurses in their 40s who have changed careers, but who could return to nursing if they could find a position that isn't as physically taxing as their former jobs. As for student nurses, she continues, hospitals have to build relationships with them early in their studies.
"It's no good hearing about St. Mike's and other hospitals two weeks before they graduate," Burr says.
Burr, an RN herself and a corporate staffing specialist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, says the October fair is already a sellout with all 40 exhibitor slots sold.
Burr charges institutions just $500 to take part in the fair to encourage as broad a range of participants as possible.
"I've got something for everybody," Burr says, noting every major teaching hospital in Toronto will be there, as will others from the Niagara region, Ottawa, Haliburton and elsewhere.
Burr is careful to point out only nursing and nursing students will be admitted to the fair at Ryerson's Joergenson Hall.
Admission is free and the fair runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Burr expects 600 to 700 attendees.
Support for the fair has come from The Toronto Sun and other media outlets and Recruit Ad Advertising in Toronto. And The Standard, a publication of the College of Nurses of Ontario that's mailed to every nurse in the province, has a full page ad promoting the event, the first time it has carried advertising.
The second Nurses 4 Ontario fair is Oct. 16 at Ryerson University in Toronto.
The event will be held in Joergenson Hall between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Forty hospitals and long-term care facilities from around the province will be on hand.
Admission is free but limited to nurses and nursing students.
The organizers expect 600 to 700 attendees.
The first fair was "a huge success, passing my wildest dreams," Burr says. That event drew about 400 attendees, and she recalls with enthusiasm that Mount Sinai hired an ICU nurse as a result and ICU nurses are "about as rare as hen's teeth."
The last fair was a success of another kind, too. It made more than $13,000 beyond its costs, which Burr turned over to the Canadian Nursing Students' Association. This year the beneficiary of the fair's largesse will be Care 4 Nurses, an organization for nurses living in Ontario but who trained abroad and who need to study some more to be registered here. Burr has committed $15,000 to Care 4 Nurses, giving 30 grants of $500 each.
Tracy Wilder, senior account manager at Recruit Ad, says the first fair provided further confirmation of what her agency already knew -- that career decisions for students are difficult. It's overwhelming for them, says Wilder, because they see jobs advertised all over the place but not at home.
The fair in October will provide student nurses with a look at 40 different hospitals in their own backyard and the opportunities they provide, Wilder continues.
Both Burr and Wilder suggest the fair after this one may have to move to another venue to cope with Nurses 4 Ontario's growth. After all, says Wilder, "It's not hard for hospitals to see the value of the fair."
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