Fort St. John nursing program continues to draw students
First class of students is nearing graduation, with third class due to begin this fall as Northern Health seeks to fill 188 positions in Northeast BC
Fort St. John’s new nursing program continues to thrive, meeting the needs and interest of local students who wish to enter community health care.
A first cohort of 11 students is almost ready to graduate from the baccalaureate program this spring, a second cohort is underway and nearing the midpoint of their studies, and the University of Northern British Columbia is accepting applications for a third to graduate in to begin this fall.
“It’s fantastic,” said Dr. Rebecca Schiff, dean of UNBC’s Faculty of Human and Health Sciences, during an open house on Wednesday evening.
“We have a cohort preparing for graduation and sending a whole host of new nurses into the workforce, many of whom are genuinely interested in working for Northern Health and staying in the area, which is really important and a valuable thing Result.”
“We’re excited to see where we’ve come so far in just two cohorts, and a bar of where we’re going next,” Schiff said.
More than two dozen prospective students, teachers and university officials met at Northern Lights College to present the program and take a tour of the on-campus hands-on nursing laboratory.
The two-year immersive program runs over five consecutive semesters and includes both classroom and online components. It also brings students into the community for experience at the local hospital when they are not doing simulations in the campus lab.
There are many incentives to enroll students in the program, including loans, and graduates are placed in a unique position, with a direct path from nursing to specialties such as emergency, maternity, or surgical services.
In Northeast BC, 188 nursing positions are waiting to be filled by Northern Health – 100 of them in Fort St. John alone.
UNBC President Dr. Geoffrey Payne says the most important thing about the nursing program is giving local students the opportunity to study in their home community.
“The nursing program has that gap, so giving people the opportunity to get into the workforce that much faster is certainly very beneficial,” Payne said.
“What we’re trying to do is keep trying to think outside the box to really meet the needs that we see; Fulfill student requests and also meet with our partners like Northern Health.”
Key to the success of the nursing program will be community support for the students who participate in the program and showing care for the work they do, Schiff said.
“That we care about the nurses in the North and that we’re really proud of them for taking this step and showing their interest in a nursing career and hopefully just practicing in the North,” Schiff said.
“And I think, more broadly, our support for everyone who works in healthcare,” Schiff added, “and showing how much we value people who work in those professions is a great way to get involved in the program.” and engage our students.”
Payne’s visit to Fort St. John continues today for a series of strategic planning sessions with faculty, students and the community.
Founded in 1990, UNBC now has four locations in the North, including Fort St. John. According to Payne, the local nursing program is a great example of the university remaining rooted in the community and working to meet its needs.
“The strategic plan really wants to ensure the university continues to make progress on what the students need, what the community needs, to ensure that education is the path to sustainability for northern communities… Fort St. John is tremendous at that ,” he said.
“We’re already hearing from community feedback about the opportunity for future offerings here, not just for education, but for research that will also have societal impact in communities like Fort St. John and the region.”
Community members are invited to attend a strategic planning session, which will be held on campus from 3 to 5 p.m.