Solution One: Become a magnet for health providers

Our government will make Nova Scotia a sought-after place for health providers by offering a simple, streamlined recruitment experience that leads directly to jobs in healthy workplaces and a home in welcoming communities. In our vision, health providers from all communities are respected, valued, and heard.

Our progress on what we will do

  • Ongoing Status Icon

    Work Ongoing: Started and continues through 2022-26

  • Complete Status Icon

    Complete: The action is complete

  • Work Underway Status Icon

    Work Underway: The action has been initiated

  • Not Started Status Icon

    Not Started: The action has not been initiated yet

  • Invest in education and training opportunities to ensure the health needs of communities are met
    Actions will includeProgress UpdateStatus
    • Develop a provincial health workforce strategy to ensure community health needs are met in the short and long term
    • A health workforce strategy is in development, while work is actively underway on recruitment, retention, onboarding and orientation, workforce expansion, and service redesign.
    • Open more nursing seats to increase the number of registered and practical nurses graduating in the province, including those from underrepresented groups
    • Investments have been made to add 200 new nursing seats across the province.
    • Eligibility criteria expanded to allow more Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) to qualify for Bachelor of Science, Nursing (BScN) programs at Cape Breton University (CBU) and St. Francis Xavier University, and pathways for underrepresented groups have been developed by each school.
    • Work with Cape Breton University to research and explore new ways to recruit, train, and retain more healthcare workers in rural areas
    • Cape Breton University and Dalhousie University have partnered to create five medical school seats for the training of rural doctors.
    • Work with Dalhousie Medical School’s Family Medicine Clinics to take 3,500 more people from the Need a Family Practice Registry
    • A proof of concept has been implemented with key positions, and process changes to practice in place, supporting enhanced care in chronic disease management, efficiencies in administrative processes and enhancements to scopes to practice for all team members. A rapid onboarding team is in place, with over 1,200 patients onboarded.
    • $6.3 million is being invested over the next four years to help new graduates and new doctors to the province establish practices, starting at Dalhousie family medicine clinics where they will gain experience working alongside other care providers, including licensed practical nurses, family practice nurses, social workers, pharmacists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.
    • The funding will also provide graduating residents and new providers to the province with support to rapidly establish a new practice, valuable mentorship opportunities, and administrative support when bringing on new patients so they can focus on responding to patient needs.
    • Increase residency seats, targeted to areas of specialty and need across the province, such as child psychologists
    • Created 10 new residency seats in family medicine across the province for 2023.
    • Increased the number of seats from 6 to 16 for international medical graduates interested in a Nova Scotia residency, with priority given to those with a connection to Nova Scotia.
    • Five undergraduate medicine seats have been added to Cape Breton University and four psychology residency positions have been added between NS Health and the IWK Health Centre.
    • The number of Clinical Psychology Residents in NS Health has increased to 13.
    • New clinical psychology residents started with NS Health in September 2022.
    • Train more specialized healthcare professionals, including laboratory technologists, through a partnership with the Michener Institute of Education
    • An agreement has been signed with the Michener Institute of Education to create a program for internationally educated Medical Lab Technician (MLT's).
    • First pilot class began January 4, 2023 with four students. Planning is underway for the next cohort.
    • Continue implementation of free tuition and books for Continuing Care Assistant students
    • On track to exceed target of 1,000 Continuing Care Assistant students from December 2021 to March 2023. In addition, tuition reimbursement is available to 273 students (enrolled since September 2021), with a Return of Service Agreement.
  • Increase supports for local recruitment efforts, showcasing Nova Scotia’s warm and welcoming culture
    Actions will includeProgress UpdateStatus
    • Give communities the tools they need for successful recruitment, including establishing a $2 million fund for local recruitment efforts, and developing recruitment and retention plans to meet community health needs
    • A Community Fund was launched in November 2022, community groups and municipalities have applied for up to $100,000 each for projects to help recruit and retain healthcare professionals.
    • Recruitment and retention planning is currently underway and recruitment trips are occurring.
    • NS Health has launched a digital recruitment approach.
    • Continue to implement new physician incentive programs to recruit doctors and retain graduates, primarily in rural communities
    • New incentive programs were introduced in March 2022, with implementation ongoing.
    • Provide new and graduating family physicians and nurse practitioners the tools they need, such as office space, mentorship, and onboarding supports, to establish new practices
    • Work to support new practitioners is ongoing and supported through strategic initiatives and innovative models of care.
    • $6.3 million is being invested over the next four years to help new graduates and new doctors to the province establish practices, starting at Dalhousie family medicine clinics where they will gain experience working alongside other care providers, including licensed practical nurses, family practice nurses, social workers, pharmacists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.
    • The funding will also provide new doctors with valuable mentorship opportunities, as well as administrative support when bringing on new patients so they can focus on responding to patient needs.
    • Nurse practitioners are being interviewed and matched with current opportunities within NS Health.
    • Work with the Health Association of Nova Scotia to support clinical placements and rural hiring of continuing care assistants
    • 154 conditional offers have been made on recruitment trips to Kenya, Singapore, the UAE, and the UK. Six positions have been filled to support continuing care employers with recruitment.
    • New Work and Learn Continuing Care Assistant training options allow students to be hired into rural areas from the start of their program. Programs have already started in Sheet Harbour, Windsor, Dayton, Falmouth, St. Peter’s, and Guysborough in partnership with local continuing care employers. Over 500 students have participated in this program option over the past year.
  • Streamline the recruitment experience to attract qualified health providers, including those from underrepresented groups
    Actions will includeProgress UpdateStatus
    • Establish clear and effective processes and timelines for hiring
    • Targeted strategic initiatives are being implemented to enhance recruitment and retention.
    • Between January to September 2022, more than 350 nurses have started working or have accepted offers to work with NS Health and IWK Health.
    • More than 160 physicians were recruited and started working across the province between April 2021 and March 2022.
    • “Come Home to Nova Scotia” physician recruitment website and campaign has been launched.
    • IWK has completed a recruitment and onboarding continuous improvement initiative which has resulted in streamlined processes and improved timelines for hiring.
    • The Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) program is providing comprehensive supports for international professionals and their families.
    • Expand opportunities for physicians and/or other health professionals to participate in recruitment efforts
    • Six physicians now service as MD recruitment leads. Their role is to participate in site visits, and meet with potential candidates to share their experiences of living and working in NS. Each of the MD leads has been assigned a zone to represent.
    • Multiple streamlined pathways are being implemented, including a pilot program for international professionals.
    • Internationally educated nurses and health care providers are being successfully recruited and matched to positions within NS Health.
    • Establish a retirement fund for full time physicians who practise patient-facing services
    • Options for a retirement fund are currently being finalized.
  • Understand and address systemic racism, oppression, and discrimination in recruitment and retention strategies
    Actions will includeProgress UpdateStatus
    • Ensure reporting mechanisms are in place for staff experiencing racism and discrimination in the workplace
    • Work is underway to determine whether current organizational processes are working, accountable, trusted, and culturally appropriate.
    • IWK has formed a Respectful Workplace Action Group that is updating the policies and is looking into creating educational material and preventative channels before the formal investigation route.
    • Identify and address internal barriers to equity in employment and advancement
    • A Department of Health and Wellness Staff Equity Strategy and Action Plan was completed in fall 2022.
    • IWK has received the full diversity census report with recommendations. IWK has worked with community partners in the design of questions, the development of the full report, and the recommendations. The next step is to dive deep into the data as well as the recommendations and develop an employee-led action plan.
    • Review and update employment equity policies to address the concerns of equity- seeking and racially visible groups
    • A review of the 1995 Employment Equity Legislation is taking place, with the NS Black Business Initiative (BBI) leading local consultation.
    • Engagement and discussions are occurring to better understand employment inequities and solutions, including an Employment Equity Action Group at the IWK. Findings will be used to support corporate employment equity policies.
    • The Department of Health and Wellness is supporting efforts to update employment equity policies, especially at the IWK around training of managers on employment equity during the hiring process.
    • Review and implement diversity and equity training to support the continued development of the workforce
    • Cultural awareness and safety module has been implemented by NS Health.
    • An Indigenous cultural safety program will be tested with clinicians at NS Health and IWK, and an Anti-Racism Action Program (ARAP) at the IWK is supporting the diversity census, employment equity plan, and developing an organization wide educational module.
    • IWK is exploring opportunities to work with a consultant and facilitator from representative communities, African Nova Scotian and Indigenous, to bring education to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Reconciliation and Accessibility (EDIRA) steering committee and leadership.
    • IWK has partnered with Impact Organizations of Nova Scotia to provide self-paced e-learning opportunities. The modules will be hosted on IWK LMS.
  • Accelerate and support the integration of qualified internationally educated and trained health providers
    Actions will includeProgress UpdateStatus
    • Explore opportunities to increase the number of Clinical Assistants practising in the province
    • Collaboration is underway between the government and the Health Authorities including a Physician Assistant pilot in emergency departments.
    • Expand existing pathways for foreign-trained physicians to gain full licensing in Nova Scotia by increasing the number of seats in the Practice Ready Assessment Program
    • Assessors are currently being recruited to allow more candidates to be accommodated through the Practice Ready Assessment Program.
    • Support internationally educated health providers to work in the province, including supporting their transition and integration into communities
    • A new orientation program is being developed to bring 140 doctors to the province over the next three years. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia has developed the program, called the Welcome Collaborative, to be delivered with physician leaders, NS Health, Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, and Doctors Nova Scotia. It will bring community partners together to offer support, mentorship, and a sense of community as new doctors begin to practise in the province.
    • 15 Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) were enrolled in a new Full-Time RN Bridging Program launched this fall at the Nova Scotia Health Learning Institute for Health Care Providers. This program will prepare IENs faster than the current part-time 14-month program that offers 90 seats per year.
    • 90+ IENs enrolled in January 2023 cohorts are being offered in partnership with NSCC and STFX through the Learning Institute for Healthcare Professionals.
    • The English Language Policy Exam was amended for Internationally Educated Nurses, creating new options to demonstrate proficiency in English.
    • Work is underway to support recruitment and integration of displaced Ukraine healthcare workers.
    • Funding was provided to the Nova Scotia College of Nursing to support the ongoing and comprehensive review of the registration and licensing process for internationally educated nurses.
    • The Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE) program is providing comprehensive supports for international professionals and their families.
    • Advance a targeted immigration strategy to support recruitment efforts in continuing care
    • 154 conditional offers have been made on international recruitment trips to Kenya, Singapore, the UAE, and the UK.
    • Planning is currently underway for 2023-2024 trips.
    • A two-year recruitment plan will be developed.
    • Work with the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) to position the Nursing Re-entry Program to meet the needs of internationally educated licensed practical nurses
    • The Practical Nursing Stream Re-entry Program at NSCC resumed in fall 2022 (20 seats).
    • NS Health’s Learning Institute for Healthcare Professionals has implemented an Orientation to the Canadian Healthcare System program to support internationally educated health care providers.
  • Accelerate investments in technology and digitization to ensure care teams are able to provide quality, people- centred care that is culturally specific
    Actions will includeProgress UpdateStatus
    • Implement One Person, One Record (OPOR)
    • Vendor negotiations are currently ongoing.
    • Use resident assessment technology in long-term care homes to better understand people’s care needs
    • Nursing homes are adopting an assessment tool for resident assessment and care planning. Data will be used for cross-jurisdictional comparison.

Solution One Results

We said we would streamline the recruitment experience.

We will monitor how many health providers we recruit, and the number of family physicians available for Nova Scotians. Future updates will include targets for net increases in health providers. The type of providers included in this count may also expand in future updates.

Family Physicians - New Inflow

Family Physicians - Annual Net Increase

Nurse Practitioners - New Inflow

Nurse Practitioners - Annual Net Increase

Registered Nurses - New Inflow

Registered Nurses - Annual Net Increase

Continuing Care Assistants

Total Registered 2022-2023

Family Physicians per 100,000 Nova Scotians

Solution Six Solution Two