Northern Health named top employer in 2015

Northern Health’s community engagement, training opportunities and recruitment success are just a few reasons

Vanderhoof — Northern Health’s community engagement, training opportunities and recruitment success are just a few reasons they have been named one of British Columbia’s top employers of 2015.

Northern Health was evaluated on eight criteria ranging from physical workplace and work atmosphere to training and skills development. Employers were compared to other organizations in their field to determine which offers the most progressive and forward-thinking programs.

“It’s all the individual contributions that makes Northern Health so incredible,” April Hughes said, Health Services Administrator in Omineca region. “As Northern Health develops strategic plans, local staff and community members actually contribute to the development of those plans. The recent renovation [here at St. John Hospital] is a perfect example.”

The eight-month $5 million renovation at the hospital in Vanderhoof impacted the laboratory, emergency department, BC ambulance access and admitting. Northern Health partnered with Ralph Roy from the Regional Hospital District, Vanderhoof’s mayor Gerry Thiessen, regional director Jerry Petersen, MLA John Rustad and St. John staff who all contributed to discussions on both finances and physical design.

“Northern Health is an organization that collaborates with local communities and local staff incredibly well,” Ms. Hughes said, who has been in health care more than 30 years and in her current role since 2007. “They also offer incredible support for training opportunities.”

Internal training is a big part of why Northern Health is able to keep and recruit health care professionals, by offering advancement in career development so staff will remain in their community.

“It improves the staffs skill level, competency, confidence and ability to deal with the variety of patients we are expected to service,” Heather Floris said,  head nurse at St. John. Northern Health also partners with high schools and colleges to support continued education for students. Project Health, in partnership with School District No. 91, gave students from Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Burns Lake and Fraser Lake the rare opportunity to visit the hospital and experience hands-on learning. Nursing staff at St. John even organize annual high school bursaries. St. John hospital also employes four ESN students every summer and participates in perceptorships for LPN or RN students. The funding Northern Health provides can be used for a variety of courses such as paring needle or emerge training.

“[Having those students] is a huge help with our workload and it’s amazing to see how it solidifies their skill set plus, the confidence it gives them going into their third or fourth year,” Ms. Floris said.

Northern Health is further commended on their success at filling difficult-to-fill positions such as occupational therapists, rehabilitation aids and physiotherapists. The number of jobs  that have been posted for 90 days or more went from 74 in 2012 to 60 in 2014. Kaley Hopps, a new Northern Health physiotherapist in Vanderhoof, is a prime example of a tough position filled.

“Northern Health is all about the community collectiveness in supporting healthcare,” Ms. Hughes said. “They recognize the close ties staff members have with their community and that Northern Health facilities are not just a place to work they are the heart and soul of the community, an anchor in the community.”

For a full list of BC’s Top Employers visit