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Action group formed to drive planning for nursing education changes

The next stages in planning for the consolidation of nursing education in the province will be spearheaded by Karen Kennedy, formerly Memorial's director of Lifelong Learning and currently serving as internal consultant to the university's provost. Ms. Kennedy is a graduate of Memorial's School of Nursing and has spent more than 15 years working in nursing education in this province.

Across Canada registered nursing education has evolved from hospital-run training programs to university academic degree programs. In Newfoundland and Labrador, there has been a tradition of collaboration among the three Schools of Nursing since the joint development and delivery of the university's bachelor of nursing (collaborative) degree in 1996. Integration of all nursing education in the province within Memorial University has been a public policy priority of the provincial government since 2005 when it gave this direction in its White Paper on Post-Secondary Education. Planning has been underway since then to bring all nursing programs, as well as the students, faculty and staff of the schools in Corner Brook and St. John's, into the university.

Consolidation will bring the Center for Nursing Studies (Eastern Health) and the Memorial University School of Nursing together to form a new Faculty of Nursing (MUN St. John's). The Western Regional School of Nursing (Western Health) will enter the university as a Division of Nursing at Memorial's Grenfell Campus. With consolidation, Memorial will become the largest nursing education provider in the country and the only university to offer nursing education programs ranging from the practical nursing diploma program to doctoral studies and including continuing education programs.

Ms. Kennedy will lead the work on nursing education consolidation and the development of a strategic funding initiative to government. She will be assisted in her work by an action group drawn from the senior administration at Memorial University, including the provost and vice-president (academic) and the vice-president (administration and finance). Support will also be provided by the dean and directors of the three schools of nursing, the associate vice-president (academic) (programs, planning and evaluation) and the associate vice-president academic (Grenfell Campus).

"We are looking forward to Karen's leadership to build on the initial planning done to date for this complex initiative and finalize a plan for implementation," said Dr. David Wardlaw, provost and vice-president (academic). "It is clear that nursing education consolidation is a priority for the government and the university. With the co-operation of the provincial government, Eastern Health and Western Health which operate the two other nursing schools, and various units of the university, I think we are in a good position to move forward towards operational integration."

He noted that there is still a host of vital operational issues to be addressed – including human resources issues, financial matters and space needs – that Ms. Kennedy and the action group have identified as needing further work.
"I am gratified that we have a clear indication from all parties involved that they will work with us to resolve these matters to the benefit of current and future nursing students and professionals and, ultimately, healthcare in the province," Dr. Wardlaw said.