Nursing students will now be able to complete a four-year degree at the College of the Rockies, which also received funding for in-demand skilled trades training, announced B.C. Premier Christy Clark during an address to the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce.
“Today, I’m pleased to announce that student nurses will now be able to complete their degrees right here at the College of the Rockies,” said Clark, who prefaced her announcement by lauding outgoing MLA Bill Bennett’s support of the College of the Rockies and the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.
“An investment in nursing means that anybody who wants to become a nurse can get their whole degree right here in the Kootenays, which is great, you won’t have to leave,” said Clark. “And it’s the same for trades.
“We’re going to open up 600 new training spots for in-demand trades and that’s 600 people who won’t have to leave to learn to become a tradesman, and that, I think is very important. If you grow up in the Kootenays, you should be able to use that towards a job in the Kootenays.”
Currently, students can do three years in Cranbrook, but must complete their final three semesters at the University of Victoria in order to graduate with a nursing degree. The announcement comes with $450,000 in funding that will be used over three years to facilitate planning and transition.
“This is a particularly satisfying announcement for me, personally,” said Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett. “I helped the college go from first year training to second and then third year training, and yet I know we are still losing many of our nursing students to the Lower Mainland because they must take their final year in Victoria. Completing the degree here in the East Kootenay means more nurses will stay here, where we need them.”
According to a government press release, the degree program will be taught in its entirety in Cranbrook starting in January 2018.
“The College of the Rockies is thrilled to have the opportunity to deliver the full degree of the bachelor of science in nursing program,” said College of the Rockies president and CEO, David Walls. “Completing the entire degree at the college is something we’ve heard our students and community say is important. We are pleased that we are able to respond to their needs.”
The college has been offering the current nursing program in partnership with the University of Victoria since 2005.
“On behalf of the Canadian Nursing Association chapter at College of the Rockies, we are excited to hear about the full four-year BSN program being offered at the college. We believe that offering the full program in Cranbrook will benefit the community by helping to keep our locally-trained nurses in the East Kootenays. It will also benefit students who will no longer be required to move across the province to finish the program,” said Samantha Lomas and Krista Braeuer, College of the Rockies nursing students and Canadian Nursing Association delegates.
In addition to the nursing program announcement, Clark also announced $1.76 million that will go towards training in high-skilled, in-demand trades.
The funding opens up 600 trades training seats in programs such as automotive service technician, carpenter, cook, electrician, heavy duty equipment mechanic, industrial electrician, millwright, steamfitter/pipefitter and welding.
“We thank Premier Clark and the Government of B.C. for this support of skilled trades training at College of the Rockies,” said David Walls, president and CEO, College of the Rockies. “This support from the provincial government and from the ITA will allow us to continue to provide in-demand skilled trades training to our apprentices and students and to meet industry needs in our region.”