Kirby Wildeman isn’t sure yet if she will work in one of the region’s growing, dynamic hospitals, nurse elsewhere in Canada, or care for patients on the other side of the globe.
But new national recognition for one of Okanagan College’s nursing programs has her feeling good about her decision to stay in the Okanagan for her training.
“I feel like I am in a great place to start my career,” said Wildeman, who is completing her first year of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree bridging program at Okanagan College.
“Between the college and UBC, there are so many opportunities for hands-on training in local hospitals. As a student, you feel very dialed into the industry from the beginning.”
The bridging program is a conduit that allows students to complete the first two years of the four-year BSN degree at the college before transitioning to UBC Okanagan to complete the final two years. Graduates earn a BSN degree from UBC.
“You get to start off in the college setting with small class sizes and lots of one-on-one instruction, which makes for a smooth transition out of high school. And then there is the excitement of knowing you are stepping into another really well-respected nursing school,” explained Wildeman.
Wildeman began her studies at the college in fall of last year. Next September, she will make the move to UBC to finish off her degree.
She will do so with the knowledge that both programs were recently accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN), a national independent body which conducts rigorous evaluation of nursing schools across the country.
“Having an independent review of our program is valuable,” explained Yvonne Moritz, Dean Science, Technology and Health for Okanagan College. “It is a tremendous learning opportunity. It gives us the chance to see how we compare to national standards, and to better understand our strengths and opportunities for improvement.
“And as a relatively new program, we are with pleased the accreditation, and by the positive feedback that we received from CASN. That feedback, will guide the continuous improvement of the program.”
The Okanagan College BSN program years 1 and 2 is also approved by the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC), the body that oversees regulation of registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and licensed graduate nurses in B.C.
The accreditation by CASN is another feather in the cap for the program, explains Moritz, and one that will hopefully continue to strengthen the reputation of the OC-UBCO collaborative partnership in the minds of students and prospective students.
“It gives our students confidence and affirms for them that we meet not only provincial but national benchmarks, the highest standards,” said Moritz.
Since the bridging program launched in 2011, 95 students have completed Years 1 and 2 at OC.
“It feels good knowing the program is accredited, especially from an employability standpoint, looking ahead to the future,” noted Wildeman.
She and her classmates have reason to be optimistic about their job prospects.
According to B.C. government statistics, the province will need 25,000 nurses by 2022.
And while she may not have a final destination in mind for that future, the Kelowna student (who hails from Abbotsford) is excited about the flexibility offered by her chosen field.
“I would love to work locally, but the possibilities are endless in nursing. It’s a great feeling to know that my education can take me anywhere.”