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Nurturing Positive Change Together 


Although my natural inclination is to start this message by wishing you all well – which I do, I also know that many of you are struggling as you deal with the complex and very real challenges in our healthcare system.

These challenges affect you and your nursing colleagues daily. Over the past few months, I have spoken with RPNs from across the province at our regional events and through our online sessions. I can see that our nurses, who are the heartbeat of the healthcare system, are grappling with unsustainable workloads that have been normalized and are truly hindering your ability to provide the care you want to give your patients.

For the past several years, you have demonstrated unwavering commitment to exceptional care for your patients in the face of very difficult circumstances. As issues such as staffing shortages and lack of support have regrettably become the norm, this has led to widespread moral distress and burnout. And now we see experienced nurses who have been “working overwhelmed” for years making the difficult decision to leave the profession altogether. This exodus is causing a void in experience and mentorship for new graduates, who are also an important piece of the healthcare system.

Frustration, fatigue, and hurt have bred resentment, affecting team cohesion. Research underscores the importance of workplace camaraderie, as you will read in the article “Thank you for being a friend: The Crucial Role of Workplace Friendships for Nurses,” but burnout has also led to disengagement and incivility. We’ve all seen it; perhaps you have acted out towards a fellow nurse.

It’s natural to turn on each other when hurt, resulting in a misalignment with your true values. This also feels terrible and will no doubt add to your stress. This breaks my heart because, as a nurse for over 45 years, I know the importance of having those positive work relationships as a lifeline to help reduce stress and burnout while making work a meaningful place.

I recall a time when I was working a particularly difficult shift in the labour and delivery department. I was still a new nurse and was starting to get overwhelmed by the competing demands of my patients. I’ll never forget the feeling of calm that came over me when I locked eyes with a fellow nurse, and she simply said to me, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to let you sink today.” That was a defining moment for me as a nurse, where I learned that having each other’s backs is at our core. The disconnect that you may be experiencing is hurting us all.

It’s time for a collective embrace to reclaim who we are, individually and as a nursing community. WeRPN is here to amplify your voice, sharing your stories with elected officials until patient ratios and working conditions improve. By advocating on your behalf, we hope this will allow you to focus on mending your caring and supportive selves. As leaders, our focus needs to shift to nurturing friendships and fortifying collective resilience.

Together, we’ll un-normalize the pressures, creating an environment where nurses thrive personally and professionally. This is our ongoing commitment to you.

I promise you I am not going to let you sink either.

Dianne Martin signature

Dianne Martin, RPN