Nursing students and educators from around the world come together at U of S to improve northern health

SASKATOON - Nursing students and educators from Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Russia and Canada are gathering on campus as the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) hosts the 2016 Innovative Learning Institute for Circumpolar Health from August 2 to 12.

The Innovative Learning Institute for Circumpolar Health is a network of universities providing decentralized nursing education. The goal of the program is to improve the teaching of northern nursing education, share best practices, and form a community of students and educators to examine and improve the clinical practice of nursing in a northern context.

“Our vision for the institute is to be global leaders in ‘putting health into place’ for northern and Indigenous people,” said Lorna Butler, strategist for distributive learning at the U of S. “The College of Nursing’s approach to the “learn where you live” model provides the appropriate context to launch this program. Information technology is key to the delivery of global communications that emulate shared classrooms and face-to-face meetings. Currently, partner universities and nursing programs are well versed in the use of distributed decentralized technologies.”

The institute was established to connect global communities, including students and faculty, to meet and learn from their peers while comparing nursing practices and needs around the circumpolar north. As part of the program, participants are encouraged to expand beyond traditional thinking and health practices through shared learning.  As one of the project’s three strategic goals, the institute will also facilitate leadership in stimulating a “learn where you live” environment, an initiative of the U of S College of Nursing.

In 2015, two educators, and two students from the College of Nursing, attended the inaugural institute, spending two weeks at the Northeastern Federal University in Yakutsk, Siberia (Russia).

“Going abroad allows students to see how nursing practice can be different in other places, expanding their range of possibilities, but it also shows them what’s common across time and space,” said Heather Exner-Pirot, strategist for Outreach and Indigenous Engagement, U of S. “We want to give northern students a chance to learn from other northern experiences, where remoteness, isolation and culture have a big impact on nursing practice.”

Funding from the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU) High North Programme has made it possible for the U of S to extend the institute’s reach this summer and include other countries within the circumpolar region. In addition to seminars on campus, students will travel to the northern communities of La Ronge, Stanley Mission, Pinehouse and Île-à-la-Crosse to meet with various health professionals and community leaders.

More information about the work of the Northern Nursing Education Network is available at


For more information, contact:

Susan Savino, Marketing and Communications Specialist
U of S College of Nursing

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