The University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) has launched a rural nursing program in Fort St. John.
In early September, the Northern Baccalaureate Nursing Program's first cohort of 13 students began their studies in Fort. St. John housed at UNBC’s space in the Northern Lights College Campus.
The program is supported by $3.3 million in capital funding from the province and introduces students to the unique aspects of delivering health care in small urban and rural communities located in the Peace River region and beyond.
"In the North, people deserve access to the high-quality, local care that the Northern Baccalaureate Nursing Program will provide in its graduates," said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. "
"When students receive the best training on how to deliver care in northeastern communities, the people living in them will benefit from having access to health-care workers who understand their specific needs."
The program makes nursing education more accessible for people living in northeastern British Columbia and aims to improve access to healthcare in the region by training nurses locally.
"By investing in in-demand programs, we are committed to training the next generation of nurses in northern B.C.," said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. "This program will give more students opportunities for hands-on learning, so they can provide quality health care where it is needed."
The two-year bachelor of science in nursing program runs in five consecutive semesters, featuring both face-to-face classroom instruction and online components. Students will complete clinical practicums in a variety of hospital, clinic and community settings thanks to collaboration with Northern Health.
"We are thrilled to welcome our first cohort of students into the Northern Baccalaureate Nursing Program. This impressive group of 13 students, along with our phenomenal faculty in the School of Nursing, represents a new chapter for health-care education in the northeast,” said Geoff Payne, UNBC interim president.
UNBC partnered with Northern Lights College to refresh and expand its footprint on campus. The renovations provide new, contemporary space that facilitates hands-on leaning in a new nursing lab and expands classroom capacity, supporting face-to-face and online learning.
In addition, Northern Lights College offers associate degrees designed to feed into the Northern Baccalaureate Nursing Program.
"We recognize there are nursing recruitment challenges in the northeast region and beyond, but we also know that training people close to where they live makes a difference,” said Colleen Nyce, Northern Health board chair.
“This program is a significant development in ensuring northeastern B.C. residents have health-care education and employment opportunities close to home, and Northern Health looks forward to welcoming future nursing graduates from this program."