SIAST and the University of Regina signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Cypress Health Region and Great Plains College Nov. 1 to deliver the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing program (SCBScN) to Great Plains College students in Swift Current beginning Sept. 2013.
At the launch event held at the College, the partners announced that eight seats per year will be offered in Swift Current as an expansion of the program created jointly by SIAST and the University of Regina in 2011, which currently offers 195 seats in Regina and 150 seats in Saskatoon.
“We here at Great Plains College are very pleased and very excited about this program, not only because of its implementation for September 2013, but because of how it was organized and what it represents,” said President and CEO David Keast at the launch.
“There was a concerted effort here to consult, improve and accommodate the complexities of this initiative, and there are complexities. What this translates into … is a well-organized and well-planned agreement and program implementation, and that in turn translates into a very high quality learning experience for students.”
This joint initiative brings nursing completion to the heart of the southwest region and will be a major contribution to the province’s pressing need for skilled nurses.
Beth Vachon, Cypress Health Region CEO, noted, “As an employer, we know that people often settle where they learn, and by having students learning in our community and completing their practicum requirements in our facilities, we have a great opportunity to engage these students early, throughout the course of their learning, and that would allow them the opportunity to have them become part of our team following their graduation.
“We also know that this is a tremendous opportunity for our staff to participate in the creation of the learning environment where they work. What we teach we learn, and that’s good for everyone.”
The University of Regina's growing Faculty of Nursing has many strengths, including expertise in Aboriginal nursing, leadership, medical-surgical nursing, maternal-child health and other clinical areas. In addition, faculty include researchers and scholars within the discipline of nursing. Related courses supporting the nursing program are taught by experts in biology, English, Indigenous health studies, statistics, computer science, and other content areas.
“For the past few years we have focused on the development and launch of our Faculty of Nursing.,” said Luigi Benedicenti, Associate Vice-President (Academic), University of Regina.
“We have worked in strong collaboration with SIAST to develop and introduce the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing program and we have had great success within the program’s early years. Today we’re happy to welcome the next step in the process of bringing nursing education to Swift Current.”
SIAST is Saskatchewan’s primary public institution for post-secondary technical education and skills training, and has a proud and rich history as one of the primary providers of nursing education in the province.
Dr. Larry Rosia, Pres and CEO of SIAST said, “What is special about this agreement is that it’s going to leverage the strength of individual partners to benefit not only students but ultimately the community of Swift Current.
“SIAST has over 42 years of history in excellence of nursing education and we consistently exceed the national average in Canadian Nursing Licensing exams,” Rosia explained. “Our graduates provide top quality health care across the province. Our reputation is recognized nationally, internationally and locally. In fact we are the most extensive portfolio of nursing programs in Saskatchewan with a team of 250 expert faculty and staff delivering 16 innovative programs.”
SIAST delivers many of its programs through distributed learning, reaching students where they live through various delivery methods and technological innovation, and brokers programs for regional colleges such as Great Plains.
“Right here in Swift Current, the new program students will be able to take their clinical studies through the Cypress Regional Health Authority. I think the energy that these students will bring to the work site will be something significant as well.” Rosia added, “Our stats are showing that 88 per cent of our graduates who graduate from SIAST stay in the province.”
Keast felt that the Memorandum of Agreement was a key step in laying the groundwork for a considerable amount of new programming at Great Plains College within the next two to three years.
“If you take a look at the political landscape in this province right now, the new Degree Authorization Act, the move towards the quality control council that the government is setting up, it appears to me to be a time ripe for change and growth, and I think over the next three to five years you are probably going to see a few more degrees being offered out of Great Plains College.
“Purely from a cost savings perspective, its worth $10 to $15,000 a year for people to finish their degrees in the community. Research suggests quite clearly that people who stay in their community to educate also stay to work, and so the whole thing turns into a very win-win for the southwest region.”
Vachon observed, “I think the excitement for us is that we know that people tend to stay and settle where they learn, and this gives us an opportunity for the Health Region to really start to engage students early on in their careers, to influence the decisions of where they may choose to practice. I really believe that nurses who train in a rural setting will be well prepared to work anywhere in the province, but in particular in our rural communities.
“That’s why as a Region we were so pleased to partner on this project and bring this program to Swift Current. It gives us an opportunity to work with people from this region, who are committed to this region, want to stay in this region but may not have an opportunity to leave and go to post-secondary education.
“As we grow this program, we’ll look for opportunities on not just spaces available for practicum in Swift Current, but there’s that opportunity of our entire region to get rural and remote nursing experience that really is a crucial part of a nurse’s training.”