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Nov. 28, 2002, Gazette

Fast track to nursing degree

The bachelor of nursing program’s new fast track option
Photo by HSIMS
On Nov. 15 the bachelor of nursing program’s new fast track option was celebrated in St. John’s and Corner Brook. Students now in the program as well as faculty and government officials linked by videoconference. In St. John’s some of the speakers were (L-R) Dr. Evan Simpson, vice-president (academic), Loretta Chard, assistant minister of health, Dr. Carole Orchard, director of the School of Nursing and Sandra MacDonald, associate director of undergraduate programs in the School of Nursing. Participants in Corner Brook (on video screen) included Linda Norman-Robbins, director of the Western Regional School of Nursing.

For students with an undergraduate degree or advanced academic standing, there’s now a faster way to earn a bachelor of nursing. The new fast track option in the bachelor of nursing (collaborative) program allows such students to complete a BN in two years of concentrated study. The regular BN is a four-year program.

The fast track option was introduced in response to the increased demand for nursing graduates. The provincial Department of Health and Community Services increased funding for the BN program in 2002 to allow 32 students to enter the fast track option, which is approved by the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador (ARNLL).

In September, 21 students began the fast track option –14 students at the Memorial site and seven at the Western Regional School of Nursing. The first graduates of the new option will be in 2004. The first class of the fast track option are currently in their first semester, taking three regular stream nursing courses plus two special offerings of Professional Issues and Health Promotion. In Corner Brook, the special offering courses are being offered through videoconferencing from the Tetra Centre to the Western Regional School of Nursing.

“With nursing shortages on the horizon, increasing enrolment is critical,” said Loretta Chard, assistant deputy minister of health, speaking at a celebration of the fast track option held in the School of Nursing Nov. 15. Her endorsement of the new option was echoed by all speakers; Dr. Evan Simpson, Memorial’s vice-president (academic), described it as a “fine example of innovation.” Speaking on behalf of students, Denise Sinnott said they were very pleased with the fast track option and are finding each other to be “a good resource” in coping with the accelerated learning.