Train nurses at home, says county

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Attracting registered nurses to the High Prairie Health Complex has become a high priority for Big Lakes County council.
At its regular meeting Sept. 28, council approved a briefing document to lobby the provincial government to introduce an RN training program at Northern Lakes College.
Council discussed the briefing at a committee-of-the-whole meeting Sept. 14, said Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services.
The briefing states council understands Northern Lakes would have to partner with another Alberta university that has a four-year accreditation.
“Council is willing to work with Northern Lakes College to help make this program a reality,” the document reads.
“This briefing was drafted to tackle the shortages of RNs at the hospital.
“The High Prairie hospital is constantly searching for RNs.”
Currently, Northwestern Polytechnic (formerly named Grande Prairie Regional College) is the only post-secondary educational institution in northern Alberta that offers a university-transfer nursing degree completion program through the University of Alberta.
“This limits northern rural students to one location if they want to stay in the north while completing their nursing degree,” the document reads.
Northern Lakes has 28 campus locations throughout Alberta, with many in northern and rural regions.
“Having a university-transfer degree option at Northern Lakes will allow local and rural students to stay closer to their communities while still being able to pursue a degree in nursing,” the document reads.
“The hope is, if local students gain an education closer to home, they have a higher chance to return to their communities to start their nursing career,” it continues.
Big Lakes has forwarded the briefing note to the Town of High Prairie, the Town of Swan Hills, the Town of Slave Lake, the M.D. of Lesser Slave River and the seven neighbouring First Nations and Metis settlements.
Council added Alberta Health Services as a partner suggested by Grouard Councillor Jeff Chalifoux. He says AHS is struggling to recruit nurses in the north and would likely be interested in an RN training program at NLC.

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