TORONTO, Jan. 14, 2015 /CNW/ - Ontario's colleges are urging the provincial government to allow colleges to offer stand-alone nursing degree programs, rather than requiring all nursing degree programs at colleges to be jointly offered with universities.
"This would be an important step to improve health-care education in the province," said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. "Allowing students to attain a nursing degree at one post-secondary institution will be more efficient and provide more options, particularly if students live in a community that doesn't have a local university."
The colleges have issued a report, Opening Doors to Nursing Degrees: Time for Action, which details the reasons for allowing interested colleges to offer stand-alone nursing degree programs. The report says consultants for the provincial government have found some colleges are ready or near-ready to offer stand-alone nursing degrees.
Until about 15 years ago, students could attain their nursing education at stand-alone programs at colleges. For many years, about 70 per cent of registered nurses were educated through college programs.
However, the provincial requirements were changed in 2000 to require new nurses to hold a baccalaureate degree from a university. At the time, colleges were not delivering degrees. This meant that any student entering nursing programs at college had to enrol in joint college-university programs.
The post-secondary landscape has changed over the last decade. Colleges are now granting four-year degrees in a variety of disciplines. These degrees have been highly successful and have contributed greatly to the evolution of the Ontario college system.
College graduates from the four-year degree programs are respected by employers for their ability to draw on sound theoretical knowledge combined with strong practical application skills. College nursing degree program graduates would bring that same combination of strengths, making them a valuable asset to the health-care team.
In a number of nursing degree programs currently offered jointly by colleges and universities, colleges are providing more than 90 per cent of the curriculum and are capable of delivering the full programs on their own. In fact, there is one college in Ontario that currently delivers 100 per cent of the curriculum.
Furthermore, Ontario colleges educate a wide range of students from varied cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Providing stand-alone nursing degree programs at colleges will help produce a more diverse health-care workforce.
"We provide students from all walks of life with exceptional training and education to become the next generation of patient-focused nurses," said Franklin.
Allowing stand-alone nursing degrees at Ontario colleges will not require any new government funding. The college sector has already developed a multi-year implementation plan to ensure a smooth transition to stand-alone nursing degrees.
"Ontario's colleges already have the capacity and experience to implement this change," said Franklin. "We look forward to working with the government to improve the access to high-quality nursing programs in Ontario."
SOURCE Colleges Ontario
For further information: Karen Horsman, Manager, Communications and Media Relations, Colleges Ontario, 647-258-7686, firstname.lastname@example.org