Home » Open Letter to Nurses » Open Letter to Nurses: Winter 2023

Hello and a “Happier New Year” to all . . .

I say ‘happier’ as for many of us, this was perhaps the first “normal” holiday season in three years where we were able to travel farther, to connect with friends, family, loved ones safely; and to me it signified that we are beginning to move forward from some of the challenges we’ve faced.

I’m coming into 2023 with promise and hope that this year will be a better one for our nurses, and the start of better things to come. There are promising updates and excellent work happening on recruitment and retention initiatives, and we are taking steps in the right direction. I realize that things are still challenging, and that our current circumstances are still less than ideal, but as you’ll see below, we are making progress in a positive direction.

As we reflect on the year ahead and what we hope to accomplish, I’ve also included some information about opportunities and assistance available to you to help you achieve your professional goals, and as always, resources to maintain, support and promote your personal health and wellness.

I’m looking forward to another year of working together to rebuild, and support nurses to provide the best health care to everyone we serve.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask, or topics you want to see covered in future letters, you can reach out to me at talktomaryanne@wrha.mb.ca.

Mary Anne Lynch

Recruitment: Where Are We At?

Nursing Graduates

In the last few months of 2022, a total of 226 new nurses graduated – 105 from Red River College (55 in September and 50 in December) and 121 from the University of Manitoba in October. As of January, we’ve hired 27 new nurses have been hired across the WRHA. Members of our team will also be attending three upcoming career fairs to promote nursing careers – at the University of Manitoba on January 17 and 18, at the University of Winnipeg on January 19, and at Red River College on January 20.

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New Grad Day

I’m excited to share that this year’s New Grad Day, on March 17, will be in-person for the first time since 2019. Every Registration is now open for nurses who graduated in the last 12-18 months, or are doing their senior practicums. It’s a great opportunity for new grads to learn tips, tools and techniques to successfully transition into the workplace during their independent practice, as well as an opportunity for those of us in the healthcare system to meet and welcome our new colleagues. Keep an eye out for more information on this soon.

Nursing students also have the opportunity to “earn while you learn” by working as Health Care Aides while pursuing their RN, RPN or LPN. Equivalency guidelines for nursing students to work as Health Care Aides can be found here.

New Grad Day poster

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UNE Positions

Finally, there are currently 205 Undergraduate Nurse Employee (UNE) positions across the WRHA – 63 Fall/Winter positions were posted in October, in addition to the previous 50 Winter positions and 92 Spring/Summer positions. The UNE positions allow senior nursing students can gain valuable clinical experience in a paid role while completing their studies.

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International Recruitment Trip to the Philippines

As part of efforts to recruit and retain internationally trained nurses, the Manitoba government will be undertaking a recruitment mission trip to the Philippines in February 2023.

Successful applicants will receive a conditional offer of employment and the opportunity to relocate to Manitoba to complete the next steps in the credentialing and licensing process.

Read the full details here

If you, your friends or family have experience as an internationally educated nurse in Manitoba, are Filipino or have connections to the Philippines and would be interested in becoming a mentor for newly recruited internationally educated nurses, please contact Lesia Yasinski, Professional Lead – Nursing and Nursing Recruitment at lyasinski@wrha.mb.ca. Internationally educated nurses can submit applications online.

Learn more and apply now!

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Nursing Incentives

As most of you have likely heard, the Manitoba government is offering incentives for nurses that include the following:

  • Full-time* RN2, RN3 and LPNs will receive an additional $2,000 each year until 2024
  • Weekend Super Premium
    • Effective Friday, November 18, 2022, nurses now receive $8.00/hour premium for all hours worked on weekends, including overtime**
    • This applies to all nurses (including casual) who work any shift where the majority of the hours fall between 1800 hours on Friday and 2400 hours on Sunday
    • The Weekend Super Premium is paid in addition to the evening, night and weekend premiums provided for under the collective agreement

* Full time nurses are those who hold a position equaling 1.0 EFT.

** Not applicable to paid time off

Manitoba nurses employed by the Winnipeg Health Region, including those who are casual or hold a term position, and who are on the payroll as of December 1, 2022, are also eligible for reimbursement of nursing licensure fees and CNPS core service liability insurance for the 2023 licensure year.

Learn more

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Authorized Prescriber Designation

Beginning June 1, 2023, changes resulting from the Regulated Health Professions Act come into effect allowing Register Nurses to attain the RN (Authorize Prescriber) designation to prescribe medications to patients or clients in the following practice areas:

  • Reproductive Health and Sexual Transmitted and Blood Bourne Infections (STBBIs)
  • Travel Health
  • Diabetes Management

Learn more about RN(AP)


If you think attaining the RN(AP) designation is the right step for you, I encourage you to connect with your manager to help support any questions you may have.

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Critical Care Nursing Orientation Program

To become an ICU Nurse, you are required to complete the Critical Care Nursing Orientation Program. To begin, apply directly to the facility of your choice for a Critical Care Nurse Trainee position (a minimum of one-year acute care experience working in surgery, medicine, emergency or cardiac care is preferred).

If you have already completed the CCNOP, have ICU training or have worked in critical care in the last five years, please apply for a nurse position (Nurse 2 – Critical Care) at the facility and/or critical care unit of your choice.

If you are interested in working as a General ICU Nurse, you can find more information on the CCNOP webpage, speak with your manager or Chief Nursing Officer, or contact the site you wish to work at.

For opportunities in Winnipeg, visit the job search page and type in “ICU” in the “Search by Keyword” field, and scroll through the results for the facility/unit and role that interests you.

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ED Nursing Opportunities

Emergency room nursing is a unique field of nursing that requires a combination of strength, compassion and a variety of skills. These nurses assess, stabilize and treat patients with a diverse range of minor to life-threatening injuries and illnesses in a fast-paced environment.

Emergency room nurses are some of the first people we meet in the face of life’s most urgent and critical moments. The work can be physically and emotionally challenging, but to be present for these patients and to comfort and provide them and their loved ones with hope, embraces what it means to be a nurse.

If you’ve ever had an interest in becoming an ED nurse, there is a robust education program available through our Emergency Nursing Orientation Program. It consists of four levels delivered via individual online learning modules, instructor led virtual application classes, in person skills components (including simulation) and onsite buddy shifts. It covers the basics of thorough head-to-toe patient assessments for new to Emergency Nursing staff, includes the Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC) certification, learning cardiac rhythms, developing the skills for working in resuscitation rooms, including Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification, and finally triage education, including Canadian Triage Acuity Scale (CTAS) certification, nurse-initiated medications and treatment, disaster management, and more.

Successful completion of level 1 Emergency Nursing Orientation training is completed within two months of your date of hire, with remaining level 2 and level 3 to be completed within 12 months of hire. All other required training is to be completed within 24 months.

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Mental Health and Wellness Support

Through HEB Manitoba benefits plan, WRHA employees have access to a Health Spending Account, which can be used towards paying healthcare expenses beyond your existing benefit maximums. Health Spending Account amounts per year are $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees. An additional $500 and $250 has been added this year for full-time and part-time employees, respectively, as a COVID-19 wellness benefit. More information on the Health Spending Account is available here.

Fitness, health and well-being benefits are also available through the StAR Program, which offers discounts on various services in and around Winnipeg.

The Organization & Staff Development Team has developed Resources For Resilience in Healthcare, which contains links to a number of tools and resources to support staff wellness.

And as always, mental health and wellness support is available 24/7 through our Employee Assistance Program. For more information, call 204-786-8880 / toll-free 1-800-590-5553 or click the link below.

Learn more about EAP

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Skill Mix Review

In the summer of 2022, the WRHA launched an initiative to better understand the care needs of patients on medicine and surgery units in our hospitals and to understand the skills our teams need to meet their patients’ needs. Using evidence-informed tools and processes, patients are assessed in the areas of stability, complexity, predictability and intensity of their overall care needs.

A key part of the Skill Mix Review initiative is involving, engaging and hearing from staff who provide direct care to these patients. Since June 2022, our team has connected with four of the five hospital sites in the WRHA with inpatient medicine and surgical units, and has assessed 19 patient care units and 11,167 patients. 191 nurses have participated in panel reviews, and we’ve engaged 89 staff through focus groups, surveys and table top exercises.

Once we’ve completed the review at all five hospital sites, we will review the data and information and share back with those areas.

I encourage those of you who have an opportunity to lend your voice, and I’ll continue to share more information as it becomes available over the next few months.

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In the Spotlight: Sandra Oloyede

My name is Sandra Oloyede and I’m a Registered Nurse, currently working in the Urgent Care department at Concordia Hospital.

Over the eight years of my career, I’ve worked at a variety of health care facilities—I started my career working on the Med/Peds unit in Portage La Prairie Hospital, and then transferred to the Lower Acuity Unit (previously the medicine/telemetry unit) at Seven Oaks General Hospital. While at SOGH, I was a bedside nurse as well as a nursing preceptor to nursing students in their final year at the University of Manitoba and Red River College.

Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been at Concordia, where I’ve trained and worked across various areas of the Urgent Care department. I’m currently working on my Master of Nursing with a leadership focus through Athabasca University. With my degree, I hope to work in roles related to patient safety, leadership and improving systems and processes in the healthcare environment.

I also volunteer to take on senior practicum nursing students, and recently became a mentor to new grade nurses in my area. I became a nurse mentor to because I really enjoy helping others. I always think back to the time when I was new grad nurse, and how helpful having a mentor and other supportive nurses helped me become confident in my skills and my role.

Read Sandra’s story

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Nurse Profile: Amber Meilleur

Circular walking paths, massage chairs and an activity centre full of brain exercises are just a few of the latest evidence-based strategies the Alzheimer’s Centre for Excellence at Riverview Health Centre uses to care for patients with advanced dementia.

“Having a path that continues means residents never really run into a dead end,” explained Amber Meilleur, clinical resource nurse with ACE at Riverview. Designed to be as secure as it is comfortable, the environment looks like one big oval shape from above. A nurse who has always had a passion to work with seniors, she believes to ensure a healthy quality of life for patients means to think about how we’d like to be treated ourselves.

Read Amber’s profile

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Upcoming Webinar

On Thursday, February 16, from 12–1 p.m., Spiritual Health Services is hosting Navigating Moral Distress and Moral Injury, a virtual grand rounds session.

Join the Webinar

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Continuing Education Funding

I talked in my fall message about the many opportunities within and directions you can take with a nursing career, particularly through continuing education. I felt it was important to share with you that there are a number of funding sources for continuing education available through the WRHA, our sites, the province, the University of Manitoba and others to support you in pursuing these opportunities.

One source that I have been asked about is the WRHA Continuing Education Fund – you can find more information on qualification and how to apply here.

Additional funding resources are also available:

Nursing Recruitment and Retention Fund

The Nursing Retention Fund offers grants in the amount of $2,000 to support the recruitment of bilingual nurses and nurses to work in personal care homes, as well as relocation assistance and a conditional grant for Manitoba’s nursing graduates.

Learn more

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Once again, if you have thoughts, ideas, or things you want to know, I want to hear from you. Please email me any time.