Shayna Conway has worked in the same unit of the Prince County Hospital in Prince Edward Island since she became a registered nurse three years ago. The unit is in the midst of a transition period.

During her three years in nursing, Shayna has seen the impact the staffing shortage has on the clinic’s operational capacity and the care they can provide to patients.

“There have been times where we had no choice but to close beds and operate as a four-bed ICU. This was still challenging as we would have two nurses for night shifts, and we were still responsible for responding to codes,” she says.

As the clinic transitions away from ICU care, nurses are taking on a new role to help transfer ICU patients to Charlottetown for care. There are usually three nurses on each shift: one transport nurse, leaving two nurses to care for the rest of the patients.

In the transport nurse role, Shayna says a 12-hour shift can quickly become 16 hours.

Shayna says nursing has evolved over the years, and the scope of practice continues to grow. As critical nurses, the expectations and workloads are high. But wages and support remain low.

“The continued stress of increased ratios and responsibilities, with ongoing uncertainty, takes a major toll on all of us,” she says. “With the nursing profession the way that it is right now, conversations around changing careers happen on a regular basis.”