TIMMINS, ON: Ontario’s colleges are urging the provincial government to allow colleges to offer stand-alone nursing degree programs, rather than requiring all nursing degree programs at colleges to be jointly offered with universities.
“This is an opportunity to provide more options to students,” said Fred Gibbons, President of Northern College. “A number of colleges are ready to offer stand-alone nursing degree programs that will be more efficient for many students.”
The colleges have issued a report, Opening Doors to Nursing Degrees: Time for Action, which details the reasons for allowing interested colleges to offer stand-alone nursing degree programs. The report says consultants for the provincial government have found some colleges are ready or near-ready to offer stand-alone nursing degrees.
Until about 15 years ago, students could attain their nursing education at stand-alone programs at colleges. For many years, about 70 per cent of registered nurses were educated through college programs.
However, the provincial requirements were changed in 2000 to require new nurses to hold a baccalaureate degree from a university. At the time, colleges were not delivering degrees. This meant that any student entering nursing programs at college had to enrol in joint college-university programs.
The post-secondary landscape has changed over the last decade. Many colleges are now granting four-year degrees in a variety of disciplines. These degrees have been highly successful and have contributed greatly to the evolution of the Ontario college system.
College graduates from the four-year degree programs are respected by employers for their ability to draw on sound theoretical knowledge combined with strong practical application skills. College nursing degree program graduates would bring that same combination of strengths, making them a valuable asset to the health-care team.
In a number of nursing degree programs currently offered jointly by colleges and universities, colleges are providing more than 90 per cent of the curriculum and are capable of delivering the full programs on their own.
Furthermore, Ontario colleges educate a wide range of students from varied cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Providing stand-alone nursing degree programs at colleges will help produce a more diverse health-care workforce.
Allowing stand-alone nursing degrees at Ontario colleges will not require any new government funding. The college sector has already developed a multi-year implementation plan to ensure a smooth transition to stand-alone nursing degrees.
“This proposed change will be a great benefit to students,” said Gibbons. “This would increase student accessibility and improve opportunities for students to pursue high-quality nursing degree programs.”
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