Co-op health clinic in Ayer’s Cliff suffers lack of nurses, doctors
By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
The provincial lack of qualified doctors and nurses can be felt right here at home in the Townships. The Record spoke over the phone with Ayer’s Cliff co-op health clinic Centre de Santé Valleé Massawippi’s (CSVM) Dr. Henry Khouri, president of its board, for an update on the situation.
“We’re looking for resources… and it’s becoming harder and harder,” Khouri began. CSVM is looking primarily for nurse practitioners, he specified, for only a handful graduate out of Sherbrooke every year. The Ministry of Health provides strong incentives for those nurses that do graduate to enter the provincial public health system, he added, which further lessens the pool of those available to work at the CSVM.
Graduating nurses are offered a large bursary and loan, in the order of $60,000 total, to work for the provincial system, he continued. It is Khouri’s understanding that the bursary is $20,000 in addition to a $40,000 loan that they don’t have to pay for three years upon graduation. “It’s kind of tough [for the nurses] to resist,” he said. “We have to match at least what they [the Ministry] is offering,” Khouri insisted, referring to the CSVM’s intended response.
The CSVM is not looking for regular nurses, he reiterated, but nurse practitioners, a profession that requires a two-year Master’s degree and three years of experience as a regular nurse. The program and qualification standards to be a nurse practitioner in Quebec have been in place for only seven years, he added. “Ontario is ahead of us,” Khouri explained, and has five to seven times the number of graduates that Quebec does. There are just over 7,000 graduates a year in all of Canada, he said, while Quebec produces around 800 a year. These differences may have something to do with salary and language requirement differences, he speculated, but he is not sure.
Khouri thinks the demand for nurse practitioners is up because of issues with, “freedom and autonomy.” They are qualified to do many of the things that a family physician does but the government has yet to give them the “bigger role” they deserve.