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College offers bursaries in bid to attract nursing students

And nursing program has accreditation renewed
Coast Mountain College practical nursing student Brylee Dos Santos with a dummy providing the opportunity for hands-on training. (Coast Mountain College)

Coast Mountain College is searching for people who want to take advantage of a $1,500 bursary as an inducement for signing up to its two-year practical nursing program. Authorized class sizes have been growing in response to a province-wide nursing shortage, from 24 students in 2021 to 24 last year and now to 32 this fall. “We are positioned to serve more students now than ever before, but interest from prospective students has so far remained static or dipped slightly,” said college communications official Heather Bastin.The college’s recruitment efforts come as a combination of college and university nursing programs in the north have had their accreditations nationally and also provincially through the B.C. College of Nursing Midwives renewed. Coast Mountain College in Terrace, the College of New Caledonia in either Prince George or in Quesnel offer two-year practical nursing diplomas so that graduates if they wish take their last two years at the University of Northern B.C. and come out with a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

The collaboration between northern post secondary schools is meant to encourage people to enter nursing because they can earn their degrees without having to leave the region and then choose to work in the north. Bastin said Coast Mountain College has typically seen 21 to 22 students enrol in its first year practical nursing program with the same number enrolling for the second year.

She added there are some shifts between first and second year as some students may move or choose a new study field while others transfer to Coast Mountain from other institutions.

“Available data from Northern Health shows that from 2017-2022, Northern Health hired an average of 14 new nursing grads each year from the Terrace campus of UNBC. The majority of these students would have started with Coast Mountain College,” Bastin added. Once hired, Northern Health has been making specific efforts to ease newly-hired nurses into their positions and to offer various supports to avoid nurses leaving after just a few years on the job. At any one time Northern Health reports that 20 per cent of its baseline positions are vacant.

About the Author: Rod Link

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