Registered practical nurses in Ontario can now upgrade to registered nurses through a new degree program recently introduced by Trent University, in collaboration with George Brown College.
The first wave of 39 students entered in early 2013 to Trent’s Post-Bridge Practical Nursing to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Pathway, (P.N. to B.Sc.N.,) which leads to a baccalaureate degree in Nursing. Graduates are eligible to write the national examination to become a registered nurse. The program is taught at George Brown College’s Waterfront Campus in Toronto.
The Post-Bridge P.N. to B.Sc.N. Pathway recognizes the prior learning of graduates from most accredited two-year college practical nursing programs. Students enrolled in the program are all practical nurses, who have completed a two-semester bridge taught by George Brown College faculty.
The bridge helps students meet university entrance requirements and closes learning gaps in core subjects, such as pathophysiology. After successfully completing the George Brown bridge, the students enter the Trent B.Sc.N. program, taught by faculty of the Trent-Fleming School of Nursing.
“Trent’s P.N to B.Sc.N. Program was developed in response to the ongoing nursing shortage and to support the career development of practical nurses,” said Dr. Kirsten Woodend, dean of the Trent-Fleming School of Nursing. “The Trent-George Brown collaboration allows us to maximize our resources and to provide nurses with an enriched post-secondary experience leading to a nursing degree.”
“The Trent-George Brown collaboration provides students with an ideal pathway to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree,” says Dr. Cory Ross, dean, Centre for Health Sciences and Centre for Community Services and Early Childhood, George Brown College. “Students have the opportunity to complete a two semester bridge at George Brown College, which gives them advance standing credits into the B.Sc.N. program that’s offered by Trent University on site at our downtown Waterfront Campus.”
The two-year Trent program consists of 18 university courses, including a minimum of 11 Nursing credits. Through clinical courses, students interact with patients requiring a range of care in a variety of situations and settings. The program offers a cooperative learning experience, including classroom settings, on-line learning, computer laboratories, and simulated practice.
Alice Pendo is a registered practical nurse who has practiced nursing since 2009. She enrolled in the program to increase her knowledge and to improve her marketability as a nurse. Like many of the students, Ms. Pendo is continuing to work while she attends school, so she appreciates that Trent has structured the program around the needs of adult learners.
“The on-line courses are good for independent learners,” said Ms. Pendo, who works on a neuromuscular rehabilitation unit at Bridgepoint Health. “And the class schedule suits students who are working or who have families, so they don’t have to be there five days a week. It is a full-time program, but you can schedule your independent study time around your other life commitments.”
A fellow student, Sheila Morrison, also sees the program as expanding her career horizon. “With a practical nursing diploma the ceiling comes up pretty quickly, in terms of where you can go,” she said. “A degree provides a theoretical foundation and opens up options, such as getting into specialty fields.”
Ms. Morrison points out that the program has attracted practical nurses with a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. “Some of the nurses have worked in long-term facilities, some in emergency, and others in dialysis units,” said Ms. Morrison who is an emergency department nurse at Humber River Regional Hospital.
“This is a whole new learning experience that is exciting for all of us,” said Ms. Morrison. “Our eyes are being opened to a new world of more theoretically-focused nursing. For example, we are exposed to more community health nursing than we were in the PN program.”
Ms. Pendo praises the small class sizes and use of seminars. “They make you feel supported and are especially good for students who need more hands-on help,” she said. “I would definitely recommend this program to other PNs considering a bridging program.”
The current wave of students in the program is scheduled to graduate in August 2014. Both Ms. Pendo and Ms. Morrison are looking forward to attending the convocation at the Peterborough campus. “I hear it’s a beautiful place,” said Ms. Morrison.