The first class of nursing students trained entirely at the College of the Rockies over the last four years is set to graduate from the institution next week.
COTR has offered a nursing program over the last 25 years in partnership with the University of Victoria, however, students had to travel to Vancouver Island in order to complete their final three semesters.
The provincial government provided funding two years ago to expand the progarm to a full four-year Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree in Cranbrook.
According to a COTR press release, several students out of the 14 who are graduating have been offered jobs in the region.
“Nurses who have been educated locally, then establish their careers here, have a better understanding of the health needs of our region and are well-prepared to provide health services to rural and remote communities,” said Norma Sherret, Dean of Health and Human Services.
“Additionally, our campus is located on Ktunaxa territory and, through our partnerships with the Nation, our nursing students have had the benefit of learning from this local Indigenous perspective, expanding their world view and enriching their readiness to be practicing nurses.”
According to provincial government statistics, there will be a need for 24,000 registered nurses in teh province over the next decade, with the Kootenay region requiring 500.
Cat MacLean, originally from Nelson, B.C., is one of the graduates of the program. She’s grateful to have been able to complete her degree while still enjoying the Kootenay lifestyle.
“It meant the world to me to be able to go to school in a place that allowed me to walk out the door after class and have immediate access to bike and hiking trails,” she said. “Being part of a smaller class also meant that I always felt like more than a number. I received so much support from the faculty and my classmates. It really helped me to thrive as a student.”
Immediately after completing the program, MacLean was hired to work on the medical floor at East Kootenay Regional Hospital.