by Miranda Burski  

The University of Regina may soon be seeing some new faces in its halls. The U of R is working with SIAST and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour to develop a new nursing program.

Although a tentative launch date has been scheduled for September of 2011, Barb Pollock, vice-president of external relations at the U of R, said the new program is still being developed. Various aspects need to be considered, including deciding which classes would be held where, and the exact curriculum the program would take on.

“We’re pretty far from knowing what it looks like yet,” said Pollock. “But we’re trying to move quickly.”

Currently, SIAST’s Wascana campus is home to a nursing program known as the Nursing Education Program of Saskatchewan (NEPS), a joint venture between SIAST’s Nursing Division and the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Nursing. Through this program, students have the option of attending classes at the U of S, SIAST’s Wascana campus, or the First Nations University of Canada in Prince Albert.

Stephanie Brodersen, a second year nursing student, said that she liked have the choice of which university to attend when she was in the application stage. She applied to both the U of S and SIAST, but ended up taking classes through SIAST. She says, however, that she probably would have preferred to go to the U of S.

“I would probably pick the U of S mainly because it is attached to a hospital and is where the physicians are trained,” she explained. “I would think that the U of S program would be good just because the facility is set up for medical programs, and they have the opportunity for more first hand experiences.”

She added that SIAST, too, offers some hands-on experience through its simulation labs and practice dummies. She isn’t sure if the U of R would be as well-equipped.

“I don’t know what they would have to offer as far as a facility goes,” she said.

Pollock explained that this is something organizers are looking at in terms of developing the program. As well, demands on faculty and space definitely need to be considered, she said.

Program organizers are looking at holding some of the classes on SIAST’s campus, and some on the U of R campus. But Pollock said that this does not mean students will be spending two years at the U of R followed by two years at SIAST; instead, students would attend classes at both campuses throughout the four year program.

Although SIAST is hoping to keep some of the Nursing Education Program’s current curriculum elements, there will be some big changes in terms of what future students should expect. One of these definite changes is the timeline students encounter when entering the program.

Currently, students entering the nursing program through SIAST are required to take non-nursing courses, such as social sciences and English, before beginning their nursing courses. The new program would see students enrolled in nursing courses immediately upon entry into the program.

Brodersen said that she believes this is a much more beneficial method for future students and those affected by the nursing shortage.

“Frankly, when it comes down to it, would you rather have a nurse that knows which medication to give you, how much, and why, or one that can write an awesome APA essay?”

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