From Iceland — Icelandic Government Tackles Potential Nursing Staff Shortages

Icelandic Government Tackles Potential Nursing Staff Shortages

Published June 10, 2020

Poppy Askham
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A significant expansion of medical training opportunities was unveiled as part of the Icelandic government’s attempt to solve a looming shortage of qualified nursing staff, Vísir reports.

Last August, working groups from the Ministries of Health and Education expressed concern about low numbers of nursing students.  In response, the Government launched a three-year initiative to significantly increase the number of students enrolled in nursing and nursing education degrees. The project is forecasted to cost 370 million ISK, but full funding is yet to be secured.

Preparation will soon start for the launch of a BSc degree in nursing at the University of Akureyri in Autumn 2021. The course will have the capacity for 20 students per year. A physiotherapy course will also be available at Akureyri, and 20 more places will be made available on the University of Iceland’s nursing degree programme.

A post-graduate conversion course will also begin soon for people who have completed a different degree but now want to pursue a career in nursing.

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir stressed that the announcement is unconnected to the Icelandic Nurses’ Association’s planned strike on June 22nd.

Iceland’s nurses are currently locked in a protracted contract dispute with the Icelandic Government. As reported, members have rejected previous wage agreements and recently voted in favour of industrial action. If the strike goes ahead it could have serious implications for the Government’s plan to screen tourists for COVID-19 from June 15th.

“There are talks going on, both formally and informally, and of course I hope we can resolve this in due course”, Svandís stated in a press conference yesterday.

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