Province to hike nursing enrolment by 100 spots
The provincial government announced July 31 it will fund a major expansion to the intake of nursing students over the next three years that will boost first-year enrolment to 400 from the current 300.
And this expansion, combined with previous growth in Nursing Education Program of Saskatchewan (NEPS) enrolment, means nurse training capacity here will have more than doubled in five years.
Health Minister John Nilson said the NEPS intake will rise to 400 per year, covering registered nurse and registered psychiatric nurse training. And, he said, practical nursing intake will rise by 16 spots.
Nilson said NEPS first-year enrolment will rise by 25 seats in 2003-04, by another 40 seats in 2004-05, and by a further 35 seats in 2005-06.
He said staging the increases over three years allows NEPS to build its capacity to accommodate this program expansion.
"Keeping and attracting key health care providers, including nurses, are top priorities of this government," Nilson said.
He added that when these increases are been fully implemented, the increased annual cost will be approximately $4.4 million.
Learning Minister Judy Junor said the move addresses both the need for more nurses and the increased interest by students in the nursing profession".
"As the degree-granting partner, we applaud the decision to increase seats in the baccalaureate program," U of S Dean of Nursing Beth Horsburgh said.
"The plan responds to Saskatchewan's need for more nurses while maintaining the outstanding quality of the program."
And Horsburgh agreed with Junor, saying, "Perhaps most satisfying, the increased seats will enable us to accept more of the bright young women and men who apply to NEPS each year."
Horsburgh urged care as the nursing program grows: "We must grow commensurate with our ability to garner the human resources, space and clinical resources to maintain quality of NEPS."
She also said the U of S is working to expand its graduate nursing program, to help to develop future College of Nursing faculty. "Canada is in the midst of a shortage of nursing faculty."
The government's decision to expand training seats follows release of an independent report on the future supply and demand for nurses which predicted that a gap will develop between the supply and demand for nurses by 2012.
The report said this is despite the fact that the number of graduates from nursing programs has increased, more nurses are working full-time, and the retention rate for nurses has increased.