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The University of Manitoba is taking major steps to combat the province’s healthcare crisis — expanding enrolment capacity in the Bachelor of Nursing program and accelerating its completion time.

“There’s a high vacancy rate within the nursing workforce throughout the province, so as a provider of nursing education we feel that we have an opportunity to make a difference and provide leadership in addressing that nursing shortage,” said Dr. Netha Dyck, dean, College of Nursing, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

“We recognize that the nursing shortage has a serious impact on the ability to provide quality care and we have the opportunity to really make that difference.”

A third intake of 120 students will be added beginning in May 2023 — increasing the number of students in the program in Winnipeg from 240 to 360.

For many students and prospective students, it’s a desire to make a difference in people’s lives.

The college will also be adding a summer term to the program allowing it to run year round, Dyck said, which gives students the opportunity to graduate one year ahead of schedule.

“Entry into our Bachelor of Nursing program remains very competitive. This additional intake actually provides an opportunity for qualified applicants who have not been able to previously gain entry, the chance to reapply and gain entry earlier,” Dyck said, noting there are usually three to four applicants per seat with each intake.

There has been an increase in applications as well over the last couple of years, added Dyck.

“We are continuing to receive many high-quality applications and there remains a strong interest in the profession of nursing,” Dyck said.

“For many students and prospective students, it’s a desire to make a difference in people’s lives. They see it as an opportunity, especially as we’ve seen over the pandemic, to contribute to the provision of quality care and service to patients, families and communities.”

Vivian Umeohabike, president of the Nursing Students’ Association and fourth-year Bachelor of Nursing student.

That’s what drew Vivian Umeohabike, president of the Nursing Students’ Association and fourth-year Bachelor of Nursing student, to the profession.

“It’s cliché, but I’ve always sought to help people,” Umeohabike said. “I went into nursing because I wanted to provide empathetic care to people in their most vulnerable and unexpected states. At the end of the day, no matter how challenging nursing is — because it is — you know that you can positively impact someone’s life.”

Umeohabike said she is happy with the changes being made to the program, and from what she’s heard from fellow classmates, other students are as well.

Depending on when they enrolled, current students can also take advantage of the new summer term in order to complete the program ahead of schedule.

“It’s really important to help address the nursing shortage, so I’m happy to see the College of Nursing making these changes,” Umeohabike said. “It’s an intense training … I think if you come through (the accelerated) program you’re going to be really strong.”

Response to the changes has been positive, Dyck said, adding the continued level of interest in the profession and the program is encouraging.

“It’s exciting,” Dyck said. “We are a longstanding provider of quality nursing education. We have a 79-year history of delivering nursing education at the University of Manitoba, and offer the largest nursing education program in Manitoba. So we welcome the opportunity to have the capacity to expand and address our province’s health care needs.”

Prospective nursing students can apply to the May 2023 intake until December 15, 2022.

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