Due to terrible working circumstances, many young nurses are leaving the public sector.

Recently graduated nurses and students say poor working conditions in the public system are pushing them into the private sector.

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Photo by Anna Shvets

This situation will not help solve the serious problem of the shortage of nurses in Quebec hospitals.

Aged 27, Audrey-Ann Bissonnette-Clermont is one of them. The co-founder of the Quebec Nursing Student Association worked in an emergency room before embarking on telemedicine for a private company.

According to her, the pandemic has been difficult for aspiring nurses in Quebec, because the internships have been canceled. And many nurses in training were unable to obtain time off to study.

Result: young people and even students desert the public system, preferring to work for the private company where they will have a better salary while having better control of their schedule.

“What we see a lot are new nurses who fall into professional burnout and leave work after five or six months of work, even in an environment where they wanted to work,” says Ms. Bissonnette-Clermont. It’s not normal for you to burn out after a few months at your first job. That should ring a wake-up call for managers and the government. ”

Newly graduated Béatrice Landry-Belleau says her experiences during the pandemic reinforced her decision to work in primary health care, but not in a hospital setting.

She explains that one wants to find a balance between his work and his life. Not being able to refuse to work overtime in a hospital environment worries him.


“It’s very difficult for me to understand how you can go to work without knowing when you can go home,” she says. The young woman said she would agree to work in a youth or refugee clinic and would be ready to run a cooperative.

According to the president of the Association des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec, the situation new nurses faced during the pandemic is part of a larger issue about how the entire profession is treated in the province.

“It’s demoralizing for nursing students to undertake internships and clinical rotations where they see forced overtime, violence, unbearable workloads,” says Nathalie Stake-Doucet. but that is not reflected at all in the way we are treated at work.

But it’s not just young people who are making this choice, she adds. Compulsory overtime and the cancellation of vacations have driven many nurses out of the profession.

“Nurses must be able to have a life,” she said. “We are no longer nuns. When you become a nurse, you don’t intend to live in the hospital. normal life and a job. ”

Ms. Skate-Doucet believes that there is a sufficient number of nurses in Quebec, but she finds that they do not want to work in the public system.

“In fact, there are enough nurses, but we are not doing anything to attract and retain them in the public health system.”

A political attaché to the Minister of Health, Rébecca Guénard-Chouinard, defends the government by affirming that it is proud of the measures taken to limit “exodus” to the private sector.

“Our government reiterates its commitment to offer attractive working conditions to health care workers in the public sector. We are continuing this work, everywhere in Quebec,” she assures, adding that the government will continue to reduce its use of health care agencies. placement.

According to Ms. Guénard-Chouinard, the recent agreements in principle with the various nursing unions will improve working conditions by reducing overtime, bringing in more staff and increasing wages.

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