South Peace News
Big Lakes County has updated its proposal to attract more registered nurses to hospitals in High Prairie and other northern communities.
At its regular meeting Feb. 8, council approved a revised briefing document to lobby the provincial government.
“We are calling on Northern Lakes College and Athabasca University to work together to help address the health-care worker shortage in the north,” states the recommendation in the document.
Health-care facilities throughout the north, including the High Prairie Health Complex, are constantly seeking RNs, the brief adds.
Council approved the original document at its regular meeting Sept. 28, 2022.
Big Lakes first suggested Northern Lakes partner with Northwestern Polytechnic (NWP) to offer a program for RNs and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs).
However, a training program in Grande Prairie does not accommodate students in the High Prairie region since NWP is a two-hour drive one way, the brief notes.
“We need our LPNs to be able to stay home and have the option to work and study at the same time,” the document cites.
“Also, the cost to move to Grande Prairie for two years is prohibitive for many.”
Council is suggesting NLC and Athabasca would be a better link.
“The partnership would benefit both institutions, students and communities,” the document says.
“Students would be training in a field that is desperate for workers.
“The jobs will be waiting for them.”
The partnership between NLC and Athabasca in the program would enable local students to stay in their local area and train, increasing the likelihood they will find work close to home.
“This would increase the supply of health-care workers to serve our northern communities, a step forward in addressing the current health-care worker shortage,” the brief says.
Northern Lakes and Athabasca are both located in northern Alberta.
NLC has an LPN program.
Athabasca has a bridging program that enables an LPN graduate to take and additional two years to become an RN.
Both NLC and Athabasca have similar online models that would enable Northern Lakes LPN graduates an easy transition to Athabasca, the document says.
In addition, NLC has 28 locations throughout Alberta, many in the rural north, where students could potentially be supported by their local campus as they move through Athabasca’s program.