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Three female nursing students practice skills in a simulated hospital room with a manikin.

Nursing students Gieselle Ortilla and Lynette Trinidad give a vital signs demonstration to incoming student Tiffany Huntinghawk.

College of Nursing welcomes first summer cohort as part of expanded program

May 8, 2023 — 

The College of Nursing at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences made history this month, as it expanded its bachelor of nursing program and welcomed a third cohort of 120 students at its first summer intake.

In December 2021, the Province of Manitoba announced an investment of $19.5 million in Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions to address the province’s nursing shortage, including an initial investment of $4.3 million to UM.

In addition to expanding the program from two intakes per year to three, the College of Nursing  is now delivering the program year-round across three terms (summer, fall and winter) as opposed to two terms. With this approach, students will complete the program in 28 months, one year ahead of the previous schedule.

Incoming BN student Tiffany Huntinghawk, 38, has wanted to be a nurse since she was 10 years old and is looking forward to the newly accelerated program. Originally from Rolling River First Nation, located about 40 minutes north of Brandon, her goal is to work in remote Indigenous communities.

“I’ve always been interested in the health care environment. I want to work in a hospital setting, get the knowledge, experience and skills and then take it back to Indigenous communities, especially northern communities,” said Huntinghawk, who spent the majority of her life in Winnipeg’s inner city.

Dr. Netha Dyck, dean of the College of Nursing, said college faculty and staff have been working quickly to prepare for the third intake and are excited about educating nearly 400 nurses a year at the University of Manitoba.

“With the additional seats, students have the opportunity to gain entry into the program earlier,” Dyck said, noting the college is adding 20 faculty and 15 support staff to accommodate the expansion. “With year-round programming, we will have about 120 graduates available for employment three times per year who will provide high-quality care for patients and their families.”

Nursing students were welcomed at a day-long orientation on May 3 that included tours of the college’s facilities, including state-of-the-art simulation and virtual reality labs, and a chance to meet classmates, instructors and support staff.

The orientation began with an opening prayer from the college’s Knowledge Keeper, Brenda Longclaws, followed by greetings from Dr. Peter Nickerson, vice-provost (health sciences) and dean, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

“We know the nurses on the frontlines are waiting for you to come in 28 months because that is going to help build the overall workforce,” he told the new students.

“We have 10,500 UM nursing alumni over an eight-decade history and that is a really remarkable cohort that you are going to be part of. It is a family, and you will feel that.”

Rhonda Campbell, director of Mahkwa omushki kiim: Pathway to Indigenous Nursing Education (PINE), welcomed all and said she looks forward to meeting students in class and through PINE.

“These next 28 months will go quickly, but they will be very challenging and intense,” said Dr. Nicole Harder, associate dean, undergraduate programs. “You will have challenges, but don’t forget why you’re here in the first place. There’s a reason you chose to come into nursing.”

Sierra Rodych of Winnipeg is excited to be part of the new intake. The 22-year old has wanted to be a nurse since she was a child. Born with clubfoot, a deformity that causes an infant’s foot to turn inward, she spent a lot of time in hospitals and had several surgeries on her feet prior to age 12. She has many positive memories of the nurses and hospital staff and how they took care of her.

“I was around the hospital staff a lot and it was very positive. It made an impact on me and I’d like to make that kind of impact too,” said Rodych.

She’s looking forward to learning about medicines and clinical skills, as well as being able to work in a hospital, which she’ll be able to do earlier because of the accelerated program.

“I’m excited. I know it’s going to be a lot at once without a break, but I think that might be better because sometimes you could lose motivation during a break. Plus, I work better under pressure,” Rodych said.

Fittingly, classes begin for the new students on May 8, the start of National Nursing Week. This year’s theme is Our Nurses. Our Future.

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