Shivonne Wilson has been nursing for 12 years and currently works in a critical care unit at the Health Sciences Center in Newfoundland and Labrador. Shivonne says conditions seem to be getting worse and worse with every passing week.

“Six months ago, it even seems better back then than it is now,” she says. “With an aging population that we have and with the lack of access to family doctors or nurse practitioners, the patients that we're getting are coming much sicker because they can't get to see a family doctor to get things addressed.”

Since patients are sicker by the time they are seen, they often have worse outcomes for their health. Better access to primary care and more staffing would improve health outcomes for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The nursing shortage hurts both patients and nurses, explains Shivonne. She points to the impact severe understaffing has on nurses’ mental health, and concerns that there isn’t enough staff to give patients the care they need. Many experience feelings of guilt and anxiety, knowing how thinly they are spread.

In combination with retention efforts like raises and work-life balance, Shivonne says, adequate staff and safe nurse-to-patient ratios would dramatically improve working conditions and help keep nurses working full time.

“They just need to give us a good enough reason to stay,” she says. “They need to recognize our worth to health care. Just saying thank you is not enough. We need incentives to stay.”