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New Nursing Initiative Combines Work and Education, Provides Salary and Tuition Support

24 February 2023

SAINT JOHN (GNB) – The provincial government has announced a new education model to help produce more licensed practical nurses (LPN) and registered nurses (RN).

About $13.3 million has been allocated for the Step Up to Nursing pilot project over two years.

“We continue to build New Brunswick’s capacity for training health-care professionals and look for new opportunities to support our health-care system,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “Step Up to Nursing is the result of a tremendous partnership and it will complement our many other initiatives aimed at addressing human resource shortages in the health-care sector.”

The initiative is a workplace-based, wage-supported learning model where participants work part-time in the health-care system while completing one of two program streams: from personal support worker (PSW) to LPN, or from LPN to RN.

The initiative is a partnership among the departments of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Social Development and Health; New Brunswick Community College (NBCC), Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB), University of New Brunswick (UNB), Université de Moncton, Horizon Health Network, Vitalité Health Network and the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes.

“Giving health-care professionals the flexibility to upgrade their training while still being able to work is a step towards improving our health-care system,” said Health Minister Bruce Fitch. “Improving our health-care system is a team effort and today’s announcement is another great example of our partners working together to ensure New Brunswickers have access to the health care they need.”

Participants will be paid wages and benefits commensurate with their employer’s job classification and scope of practice. Wages will be maintained during periods of learning, including workplace clinical placements, and tuition fees will be covered.

“NBCC graduates play a vital role in New Brunswick’s health-care system and we are delighted to collaborate on innovative pathways that enable health-care workers to gain the skills that will move them forward in their careers,” said Ann Drennan, vice-president academic, innovation, and student affairs. “By removing some of the financial barriers to continuing education, we are making lifelong learning more accessible to New Brunswickers.”

“CCNB is a key player in workforce planning, in partnership with New Brunswick employers,” said CEO Pierre Zundel. “What is important is to be well-aligned with the needs of our employers and to ensure delivery of the program to potential students. We know there is a huge need for workers in the nursing field, and that is why CCNB contributes to offering a program that gives the possibility to work while studying.”

“The future of Canada’s public health-care system depends on the decisions we make right now and UNB is well positioned to play a part,” said Paul J. Mazerolle, president and vice-chancellor. “We are proud to be part of this new initiative that will complement UNB’s existing nursing programs and will make nursing education more accessible to New Brunswickers.”

“We are proud to see the culmination of the creation of this new program,” said Denis Prud’homme, Université de Moncton president and vice-chancellor. “This initiative is proof of the creativity and collaboration required to increase the number of nursing graduates. This work-study program will allow people to acquire a professional training while having a stable income and working here, in New Brunswick.”

“Horizon is passionate and persistent in its efforts to recruit nurses, and initiatives like Step Up to Nursing will help us achieve success,” said Brenda Kinney, vice-president and chief nursing officer, Horizon Health Network. “We’re encouraged that this initiative will not only help our employees further their nursing education and careers, but it will allow us to maintain our nursing resources at the same time.”

“Training and recruiting nurses are major issues for our health-care system, which is undergoing a significant transformation,” said Frédéric Finn, vice-president of employee experience at Vitalité Health Network. “Vitalité is pleased to take part in this initiative by offering participants a dynamic learning environment, as well as several employment opportunities.”

Funding for the initiative is provided over a three-year period through the Canada-New Brunswick Labour Market Agreements and includes first-year development costs.

“For more than three decades, we’ve had the privilege of providing service and care to seniors alongside dedicated and compassionate team members who have committed themselves to working with purpose everyday,” said Jason Shannon, Shannex president. “We are honoured to be part of this ground-breaking initiative that will support those who want to grow and enhance their skills while also stepping up to fill an important need within the health-care system.”

The program will be offered in Saint John and Bathurst and will be a mix of online and in-person training. The program will have an initial uptake of 104 participants this fall. Additional information is available online.

This initiative supports the government’s health plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action, which has five action areas: access to primary health care, access to surgery, create a connected system, access to addiction and mental health services, and support seniors to age in place.

It also builds on the government’s efforts to support the recruitment and training of nurses, which include:

  • Establishing navigation services for internationally educated nurses
  • Signing 10-year performance-based agreements with Université de Moncton and the University of New Brunswick to increase the number of nursing gradates by 85 per year
  • Increasing the number of seats for bridging programs that help licensed practical nurses apply directly to a bachelor of nursing program
  • Doubling the seats in the University of New Brunswick’s master’s program for nurse practitioners
  • Increasing educational opportunities through a partnership with Beal University in Maine.

By: Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Health

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