Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

(Still) Wanted: Healthy workplaces to improve patient safety, help ailing profession

(Still) Wanted: Healthy workplaces to improve patient safety, help ailing profession


4th international conference on healthy workplaces for nurses

TORONTO, Nov. 17, 2004 – While research linking work environments to adverse events, poor patient safety, and an ailing nursing profession keeps coming, progress in improving those health-care workplaces is not keeping pace.

And that’s something that more than 250 nurses, health-care employers, human resource and public policy professionals and social scientists will be working on today and tomorrow during the 4th annual international Healthy Workplaces in Action conference. Organized by the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) Centre for Professional Nursing Excellence and the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO), the conference will showcase ways to make health-care environments safe and secure for patients and workplaces attractive to today’s and tomorrow’s nurses.

“We cannot underestimate the clear connections between healthy work environments, the health and sustainability of the nursing profession, and the health of our patients,” says Irmajean Bajnok, acting executive director of RNAO. “This is especially true in an environment characterized by constant change and high stress.”

The sessions, led by Canadian experts and colleagues from Australia and Pakistan, will focus on such areas as workload, decision-making and staffing, as well as on the ground-breaking best practice guidelines on healthy work environments now being developed by RNAO.

Sessions include:

  • Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN) will outline the results of an internal investigation, conducted by a commissioned industrial engineer, that found medication delivery, frequent interruptions, and time spent searching for supplies and equipment are key workload issues pulling nurses from the bedside.
  • Royal Ottawa Hospital will discuss how it is teaching its nurses to deal with anger, hostility, verbal aggression, gossiping and tattling by colleagues -- behaviour that can be linked to increased patient acuity, gender, and intergenerational communication differences.
  • The University of Alberta will share the results of a study that found adverse patient events can be linked to cultural diversity, nurse autonomy, control over practice, and relationships between nurses and physicians in the health-care setting.
  • The University of Toronto will explore the causes, costs, consequences and challenges of nurse turnover, and offer suggestions on how supportive nurse management, flexible scheduling arrangements, opportunities for career development, and promotion of teamwork can enhance nurse job satisfaction.
  • Hamilton Health Sciences will share how its innovative nursing resource group, responsible for tracking and assessing trends in sick time, overtime and the use of agency staff, has organized focus groups, internal reviews and surveys to create action plans to address the overuse of sick time, overtime and agency resources.
  • The Capital Health District Nursing Advisory Council (Halifax), a nurse-led, nurse-governed organization, will offer insights on how it is paving the way for a new generation of nurses by developing nursing leadership and providing 3,300 RNs and RPNs with the opportunity to have a collective voice in the decisions of their organization.
  • The Canadian Nurses Association will report on a project designed to help health-care employers make the often-complicated decision of when and how to use which category of nursing personnel -- registered nurses (RN), licensed/registered practical nurses (LPN/RPN) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPN).

WHAT: Healthy Workplaces in Action 2004: Thriving in Challenge

Fourth annual international conference hosted by RNAO and RPNAO, with support from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

WHO: Nursing leaders and keynote speakers, including:

  • Graham Lowe, PhD, Research Associate, Canadian Policy Research Networks, and
  • Tilda Shalof, RN, BScN, CNCC (C) author of A Nurse’s Story- Life, Death, and In-Between in an Intensive Care Unit


  • Hilton Suites Toronto/Markham Conference Centre & Spa 8500 Warden Avenue, Markham


  • 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004
  • 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004

For more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209
Cell: 647-406-5605