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Learning closer to home

Three satellite sites make nursing education more accessible

Teaching and Learning

By Marcia Porter

When registered nurse Kathy Gillett learned that one of three new Faculty of Nursing satellite sites would open in her community, she wanted to be involved.

Last March in Budget 2022, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced $3 million to increase the number of seats in Memorial University’s nursing program by 25 per cent, making it possible to create three new sites in Labrador, Gander and Grand Falls-Windsor.

“The benefits of a home-grown cohort of students have been proven in other programs,” said Ms. Gillett, a resident of Happy Valley-Goose Bay and the site co-ordinator for the bachelor of science in nursing (collaborative) program at Memorial’s Labrador Campus. “Students are thrilled to be able to take the full program without having to travel so far.”

The new sites will add 72 seats to the bachelor of science in nursing (collaborative) program.

It’s a substantive increase, and the first time the university has added new locations since the province’s three nursing schools came together to offer a baccalaureate program in the 1990s.

Andrea Watkins is smiling with a white backdrop behind her.
Andrea Watkins
Photo: Submitted

“It’s exciting to be a part of expanding the footprint of Memorial University, as well as the Faculty of Nursing,” said Andrea Watkins, associate dean (satellite sites), Faculty of Nursing. “I am thrilled to have a role in helping bring these new sites to fruition and in turn making nursing education more accessible to students. This will help recruit and retain nurses to work in their home communities.”

Stacey Snow, a registered nurse and the site co-ordinator for the program in Gander, which is based at the College of the North Atlantic this year, says the development is good for her community, the nursing profession and students.

“There is definitely a sense of excitement for everyone surrounding the new nursing sites,” she said. “Other nurses and health-care workers have voiced their excitement. They are hopeful that this will lead to more recruitment opportunities for the area.”

All three of the site co-ordinators say reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

“My community is buzzing with excitement,” said Janine Byrne, a registered nurse and the co-ordinator of the Grand Falls-Windsor site, located for the 2022-23 academic year at the local College of the North Atlantic campus. “Increasing the number of registered nurses in this province is of critical importance. I feel that residents recognize the positive growth and development for the community and opportunity for high quality learning experiences for this region.”

Lectures will be delivered on-site and remotely, with nursing labs taking place in the community, and clinical courses offered in-person at a health-care facility in the region.

You can read learn more about the new satellite sites here.

With orientation and the first day of classes coming up on Sept. 6, the site co-ordinators and Ms. Watkins are working hard on preparations.

The women all say they are looking forward to meeting their new students and to helping shape the future of nursing education in their communities.

“I am most excited to support and become engaged with students as they embark on their journey to become registered nurses,” said Ms. Byrne.

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