Where are nurses working? Employment patterns by sub-sector in Ontario, Canada.
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OBJECTIVE: As care shifts to home and community, have nursing jobs followed? We examined changes in the absolute and relative size of the nursing workforce by sector/sub-sectors in Ontario, Canada. METHODS: All nurses registered with the Ontario College of Nurses over the 11 years from 1993 to 2003 were categorized as Active, Eligible or Not Eligible. Active nurses were then categorized by sector (Hospital, Community, Other) and sub-sector. The analysis was repeated by age group and for registered nurses and registered practical nurses. RESULTS: The decline in Active and Eligible nurses was particularly pronounced for younger workers. Both the absolute number and proportion of nurses working in the hospital sub-sector has dropped. In the community sector, growth was evident in the use of nurses as case managers (in the CCAC sub-sector), community agencies and community mental health (representing a shift from hospital-based workers). However, the steady growth in the number and proportion of nurses working in home care agencies was reversed in 1999, with this sub-sector shedding 19% of its nurses by 2003. CONCLUSION: Despite considerable rhetoric to the contrary, nurses still tend to work within institutions (hospitals and long-term-care facilities). However, compared to their numbers in 1993, there were fewer nurses providing direct patient care in Ontario in both the hospital and community sectors, and a higher proportion of older nurses.
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