By David Chilton
Special to the Toronto Sun
The Nurses 4 Ontario Career Fair sold out two months ago. Major teaching hospitals, general hospitals, rehabilitation and long-term care providers and even the Canadian Armed Forces signed up for a chance to speak to student nurses or those already qualified about opportunities at home.
Organizer Elaine Burr, a corporate staffing specialist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and an RN herself, says the Oct. 16 event at Ryerson University's Jorgenson Hall has attracted 42 exhibitors, and there has been interest from nursing schools around the province.
She says she's heard from Laurentian University and the University of Windsor, among others, and a bus full of fourth-year students from Queen's University in Kingston is expected. Admission to the fair is free, but restricted to nurses and nursing students. The fair runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The first Nurses 4 Ontario was held last January, also at Ryerson, and attracted about 500 attendees. This time, Burr expects about 600 or 700 people to attend, and speculates she may have to move the next fair to a bigger venue.
If she does, it's a good bet the exhibitors that have paid their $500 fee both times will do so again.
David Cheuy, manager of recruitment and human resources programs at Mount Sinai, a two-time exhibitor, says Nurses 4 Ontario provides an opportunity for the Toronto hospital to find the best graduates and show them the benefits of working there.
"We do believe strongly in creating opportunities for new graduates," says Cheuy, who's keen on Nurses 4 Ontario being just for RNs and RPNs from this province.
| ELAINE BURR
Nurses 4 Ontario organizer
Cheuy, who like his counterparts elsewhere has to compete for nurses -- Mount Sinai has numerous vacancies but he won't disclose numbers -- says there will always be some graduates who head off to the U.S. or other places abroad, but for the rest he urges them to see past the "sales pitch" and get a full idea of what nursing overseas means. In the U.S., for example, new security regulations mean that visa requirements for Canadian nurses have been tightened.
Shelagh Jones, recruitment and retention specialist at Markham Stouffville Hospital, was highly satisfied with the Nurses 4 Ontario fair last January and did some hiring as a result.
However, there aren't a lot of vacancies at Markham Stouffville, Jones says, so the hospital's principal interest in the fair is raising its profile.
Markham Stouffville, which serves a burgeoning suburban population, is scheduled for redevelopment, says Jones, so it wants to tell nurses about the advantages of working just northeast of Toronto proper. Another exhibitor, the College of Nurses of Ontario, aims to talk to students.
Nurses 4 Ontario runs on Oct. 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Jorgenson Hall, Ryerson University.
Admission is free but restricted to nurses and nursing students.
There are 42 exhibitors at the fair -- all from Ontario.
The College of Nurses of Ontario will be on hand to answer questions from nurses trained in Canada or abroad.
It is expected 600 to 700 nurses and student nurses will attend.
"It's an opportunity for the College and new graduates to meet face to face and for students to get their questions answered," says Kathie Conlin-Saindon, an RN and a consultant for the College.
It's also a chance for the College to tell nurses trained abroad how they can qualify to practice here, she continues, and how there is information on paper and on the Internet to help them.
As well as the benefits Nurses 4 Ontario will confer on Canadian student nurses, it will also help their colleagues who trained overseas. Burr says she has promised a $15,000 donation to Care 4 Nurses, an organization that assists RNs and RPNs with foreign qualifications. The money will be split among 30 nurses from that organization.
Nurses 4 Ontario is non-profit and Burr is adamant it will stay that way. "I've had quite a few requests from private agencies, private businesses, and I can just say 'no.' I'm not in this to make money and I don't need 500 exhibitors."
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