New provincial funding to support nursing will mean another 96 seats for international students at Northwestern Polytechnic.

On Oct. 17, the province announced $11 million to expand bridging programs for internationally educated nurses.

Bridging programs aim to help nurses trained internationally gain their licenses to practice in Alberta, and $.5 million is going to NWP for international nursing students.

“The regulatory college has made some changes to make it more accessible for internationally educated nurses to come to Alberta and practice in as quick of a timeframe as possible,” said Vanessa Sheane, NWP acting president and CEO.

She said last year in Alberta, Mount Royal University was the only post-secondary institution offering the course, and it had a six-year waiting list.

A partnership between NWP, Keyano College, Portage College, and Bow Valley College was created to collaborate and share curriculums, said Sheane. 

Nurses coming from outside Canada are required to pass the NCLEX Rn exam, just as any other nurse in Alberta. The first course from NWP is the Practice Preparation for Domestic and Internationally Educated Nurses, which will prepare nurses for the NCLEX Rn exam. 

“Even our students that go through the full four-year degree with us to be a registered nurse, they still have to pass that same exam at the end in order to practice as a registered nurse,” said Sheane.

The Practice Preparation for Domestic and Internationally Educated Nurses is the first of seven courses that NWP is looking to offer. 

Future courses are expected to include maternity care, pharmacology, jurisprudence and indigenous health.

Sheane said that registered nurses from the United Kingdom haven’t completed maternity courses since midwifery is a common practice. UK nurses looking to work in Canada would still be required to take the NCLEX exam but may require additional instruction in maternity care. 

“This suite of seven courses was chosen based on the needs that internationally educated nurses need coming into Canada,” Sheane said.

Practice Preparation for Domestic and Internationally Educated Nurses is currently open for registration; information on the additional course is expected in the next few months.

Additionally, Sheane said work is underway to create a bridge program between the practical nurse and registered nurse programs, allowing licensed practical nurses to expand their education to become registered nurses.

“Adding additional seats for nurse bridging programs is a vital step towards addressing the growing demand for health care professionals in our province,” said Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health.

“Internationally educated nurses play a crucial role in meeting the health care needs of Albertans, and this initiative will help them integrate more easily into communities across our province.”

“Investing in more seats in bridging programs helps internationally educated nurses get to work in our communities and meet Alberta’s need for highly skilled and dedicated health care workers,” said Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education.

The province is offering incentives for internationally trained nurses to get their license to practice in rural Alberta. Internationally trained nurses can gain up to $30,000 over five years to offset the cost of the bridging program by receiving $6,000 for every year they work in a rural area. 

NWP currently accepts 120 first-year students into the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program that creates registered nurses. The school also offers a practical nursing diploma with 48 seats on the Grande Prairie campus, and the Fairview campus has 16 seats but will be expanding to 32 seats next year. 

Sheane said a waitlist exists for both the registered and practical nurse programs in Grande Prairie, but the Fairview program, which only launched this year, does not have a waiting list. 

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 02, 2023 at 10:20

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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