Canada does not have enough aboriginal nurses and aboriginal nursing faculty. Consequently, there is an inadequate number of nurses to meet both on- and off-reserve and community health care staffing needs. In 2002, Health Canada asked the Canadian Association of University Schools of Nursing to facilitate a national task force that would examine aboriginal nursing in Canada. The task force engaged in an extensive literature review, conducted a national survey of nursing programs, and explored recruitment and retention strategies. In 2007, the association prepared an update on the current status. In this article, the authors review the progress made during the intervening five years in the recruitment, retention and education of aboriginal nursing students.
Nursing education access programs have been introduced in a number of countries to address the shortage of healthcare providers of Aboriginal descent. An evaluation study of a nursing education access program in Labrador, Canada, was undertaken using a Responsive Evaluation approach. Interviews and focus groups with program stakeholders were conducted. Program effectiveness was influenced by culturally relevant curriculum, experiential and authentic learning opportunities, academic and social support, and the need for partnership building between stakeholders. The authors report key findings resulting from the Responsive Evaluation.
Aboriginal youth is one of the fastest growing of all populations in Saskatchewan today. This is a prime group to target for training in the health care professions. The need for strategies to support recruitment and retention in these programs is critical for maintaining our present standard and increasing demands of quality health care. Program initiatives and supports need to be implemented to encourage this population to enroll in and complete health care programs. Although only 5 years old, the University of Saskatchewan, First Nations University of Canada, and Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) have created a viable northern nursing program with a retention rate of Aboriginal postsecondary students 13% greater than the provincial norm. They graduated their first class of nursing students from and for the North, May 2006.