Coast Mountain College is searching for people who want to take advantage of a $1,500 bursary as an inducement for the first year of its nursing program.
Authorized class sizes have been growing through the four-year Northern Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program (NCBNP) in response to a province-wide nursing shortage, with 24 students last year to 32 later this year in the fall.
“We are positioned to serve more students now than ever before, but interest from prospective students has so far remained static or dipped slightly,” said Coast Mountain College communications official Heather Bastin.
The college’s recruitment efforts come as a combination of college and university nursing programs in northern B.C. have had their accreditations nationally and also provincially through the B.C. College of Nursing Midwives renewed.
The four-year Northern Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program (NCBNP) allows students to take their first two years of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at either Coast Mountain College in Terrace, or the College of New Caledonia in Prince George or Quesnel and then finish their last two years at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) campus in the same city.
The collaboration between northern B.C. post secondary schools is meant to encourage people to enter nursing because they can earn their degrees without having to leave the region and so they can work in the north.
Bastin said Coast Mountain College has typically seen 21 to 22 students enrol in its first-year nursing program with the same number enrolling in their second year.
She added there are some shifts between first- and second-year, as some students may move or choose a new study field while others transfer to Coast Mountain College from other institutions.
“Available data from Northern Health shows that from 2017-2022, Northern Health hired an average of 14 new nursing grads each year from the Terrace campus of UNBC. The majority of these students would have started with Coast Mountain College,” Bastin added.
Once hired, Northern Health has been making specific efforts to ease newly-hired nurses into their positions and to offer various supports to avoid nurses leaving after just a few years on the job.
At any given time, Northern Health reports that 20 per cent of its baseline positions are vacant.