Eliminating the shortage of registered nurses in Canada: An exercise in applied needs-based planning Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To demonstrate the application of a needs-based framework for health human resources (HHR) planning to illustrate the potential effects of policies on the shortage of Registered Nurses (RNs) in Canada. METHODS: A simulation model was developed to simultaneously estimate the supply of and requirements for RNs based on data on the health needs of Canadians with current service delivery patterns and levels of productivity as a baseline scenario. The potential individual and cumulative effects of various policy scenarios on the 'gap' between these were simulated. RESULTS: A baseline scenario estimated a shortage of about 11,000 RN FTEs in 2007 for Canada, increasing to over 60,000 by 2022. However, multifaceted approaches have the potential to eliminate the estimated shortage. CONCLUSIONS: Estimating the requirements for health human resources must explicitly consider population health needs, levels of service delivery and HHR productivity while changing supply to meet requirements involves consideration of a broad range of comprehensive interventions. Investments in improved data collection and planning tools are needed to support more effective HHR planning. The estimated Canadian shortage of RNs based on current circumstances can be resolved in the short to medium tern through modest improvements in RN retention, activity and productivity.


  • Tomblin Murphy, Gail
  • Birch, Stephen
  • MacKenzie, Adrian
  • Alder, Rob
  • Lethbridge, Lynn
  • Little, Lisa

publication date

  • May 2012