By Jack Wilson
The CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS, the Townships’ health authority, is hiring close to 400 nursing students and yet-to-be-licensed graduates to staff hospitals and long-term care over the summer. The longstanding program will “bring a significant workforce to sustain our summer operations, especially with our employees taking well-deserved vacations,” said Audrey Perron, the authority’s coordinator for nursing and work organization.
The summer is often a period of exacerbated work shortages in the region’s already strained health sector. Though the CHUS took on 3,200 employees last year, it also lost 3,000. Mandatory overtime, in which nurses are made to work extra hours to cover unfilled shifts, remains a pervasive issue throughout Quebec.
About 280 of the hires gathered across the region May 31 for what Perron called “a day of a warm and friendly welcome.”
This latest batch of temporary hires includes many who will write their exams in September, as well as current students at least one year into their university training or two years into their CÉGEP formation. Those who have yet to graduate will see their roles “a little bit more restricted because they haven’t finished their studies,” Perron said.
Still, Perron said the hires, which the authority refers to as externs, will “really count on the team.” She said she was confident that they will be qualified for their positions. The externs won’t be surplus workers, she added.