First Nations Health Managers Search for Solutions at National Forum

EDMONTON, March 19 – Today at a National Forum for First Nations Health Managers, held at the Edmonton Marriott River Cree Resort, First Nations Health Managers will look for ways to create professional development opportunities, to recruit and retain quality employees and overcome issues like staff recruitment, retention and compensation.

First Nations Health Managers, have a much broader set of responsibilities than other health executives. In addition to hiring, firing and managing budgets, First Nation Health Managers are often involved in clinical work, health promotion, everything from education about pregnancy to disposing of remains at death. They work in environments where technology can change quickly, for example in telehealth, but staff shortages often make it hard for them to take time away from their communities to upgrade their skills. “The reality is that many of the issues First Nations Health Managers cope with, like staff shortages are not going to change anytime soon. It’s hard to retain staff when they have to work longer hours for less pay than other health professionals, which is the reality in an under-funded system,” Assembly of First Nations CEO Richard Jock said. “What First Nations Health Managers can do is look for better ways to cope, and new options to get competent accredited training and other support. Having those things in place will improve the system, and in doing so, improve the health of our people.”

First Nations Health Managers often find it difficult to take training because it means leaving their community short-staffed while they are away. Further stress is added if they leave behind family members or young children. Some of the solutions that will be discussed today are networking, forming a First Nations Health Managers Association and creating shorter accredited training courses that are specific to the challenges of managing health in First Nations communities.

For further information: Karyn Pugliese, Health Communications, (613) 292-1877, kpugliese@afn.ca

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