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First student cohort settles into Georgian College's new stand-alone nursing program

Students are settling into Georgian College's new stand-alone four-year Bachelor of Science and Nursing program.

"This is our first cohort, and we are unbelievably excited," said Sara Lankshear, associate dean of nursing.

One hundred and fifty students are among the first to enroll in the program, which is aimed at attracting students to campuses in Barrie and Owen Sound.

"We have 120 here at the Barrie campus and 30 at the campus in Owen Sound," said Lankshear. "The students they actually live in these communities. They will now learn all four years in these communities, learn about the communities and then upon graduation stay here and practice in these communities."

Last year the province announced $35 million to increase enrolment in nursing programs in Ontario as hospitals in Grey Bruce and Simcoe Muskoka continue to grapple with staffing shortages.

"What we found in the previous program in place before is anywhere from 40 to 60 per cent of the students that finished their degree in the GRA area never came back to this area to practice," said Lankshear.

Lankshear said that this year, the college had about 900 applications for the program.

Kaidence Buck is a first-year student. Her mom works at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) in Barrie.

She said hearing about the challenges firsthand is one of the reasons she chose the program.

"With everyone that's applied and in the program, it will be better. There will be more nurses who will be there to reduce the burnouts and the shortages," Buck said.

Others like Paula Hamilton said completing all four years close to home allows her to save money without uprooting her family.

"(There is) no need to worry about transportation, no need to worry about living cost and adjusting your whole life over again, especially being a mom," said Hamilton.

The curriculum focuses on the needs of the area, including Indigenous and mental health, seniors, and rural health care.

In preparation for the program, the campus in Owen Sound opened its $7.1 million new nursing and wellness wing, providing the space and technology for several programs, including nursing.

In Barrie, several investments were also made in technology.

"We've also got some plans for renovations at this campus as well that will continue to be able to provide a state-of-the-art learning environment for our students," said Lankshear.

As hospitals like RVH move to double in size, the college said students graduating from this program would be ready to fill those spots and meet the demand. Top Stories

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