Lambton College President & CEO Judith Morris is advocating for the provincial government to finalize a decision to allow some Ontario colleges to offer stand-alone nursing degree programs.
“Strengthening nursing education in this province will make a real difference to students and our health-care system,” explains Morris, in the wake of Nursing Week celebrations at Ontario colleges. “Stand-alone nursing degree programs at colleges will ensure we reach a broader range of students and our programs will be more cost-effective.”
Currently, nursing degree programs in Ontario must be offered jointly by colleges and universities. However, Ontario’s colleges continue to call for government approval to allow a few interested colleges to offer their own stand-alone nursing degree programs.
Stand-alone nursing degree programs at colleges would ensure the future nursing workforce reflects the diversity of the population, as the student body at Ontario’s colleges mirrors the socioeconomic diversity of the general population.
Allowing Lambton College and a few other colleges to offer stand-alone nursing degrees would also eliminate excessive travel costs for students who sometimes travel great distances to complete their nursing degree education at a university after taking their first two years at their local college. The excessive cost and travel has discouraged some qualified students from pursuing nursing degrees.
Independent research for the Ontario government has confirmed there are about six colleges that are ready or near-ready to offer their own independent nursing degree programs. In fact, some colleges in Ontario already deliver 100 per cent of the nursing degree curriculum.
Post-secondary education has changed significantly since nursing degrees were first introduced in 2000. At that time, degree programs were only available at universities, which made it necessary for colleges and universities to jointly deliver the nursing degree programs.
However, many colleges now successfully deliver four-year degree programs in a range of fields. Independent research has confirmed the four-year degree programs at colleges effectively prepare graduates for leading-edge careers.
“Students should have the opportunity to complete high-quality nursing degree programs in their own communities,” says Morris. “One important way we can honour our nurses and the nursing profession is to enhance the opportunities for students from a broad range of backgrounds to pursue careers in this critically important field.”