N.B. to spend more than $10M on nursing bridging program

WATCH: The Higgs government is investing more that $10 million over the next decade to help address New Brunswick’s nursing shortage. As Andrew Cromwell reports, the program will help licensed practical nurses train to become registered nurses.

The province is spending more than $10 million at two New Brunswick universities on programs to help licensed practical nurses become registered nurses.

The bridging program is being offered at UNB-Saint John and L’Universite de Moncton, and a total of $10.6 million is being committed over ten years to fund 24 seats per year at each university.

READ MORE: N.B. needs to hire 1,600 nurses in 5 years to keep up with demand

Trevor Holder, New Brunswick Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour says this is “outside the box thinking.”

“The fact that we’re taking LPN’s from around the province, giving that bridging is necessary so that within a two year period they’re going to be RN’s as opposed to waiting four years for them,” he added.

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University officials say the term bridge is important especially given the trying times in filling the nursing need in New Brunswick.

READ MORE: Hospital overcrowding, staff shortages have more nurses seeking medical leave, says NBNU

“A bridge is significant for allowing us to navigate choppy waters in that this is a complex issue,” said UNB-Saint John President Paul J. Mazerolle.

“How do we solidify the future of the nursing profession in our province given the many challenges?” he asked

The initiative is also being given the thumbs up by the provincial nurses association.

In a statement, the Nurses Association of New Brunswick (NANB) said that they are “supportive of this approach to nursing education and are pleased to see this action item identified by the nursing resource strategy is moving forward.”

READ MORE: New Brunswick releases 10-year strategy aimed at heading off nursing shortage

The money comes after the province cut millions of dollars from nursing programs because Holder says they weren’t creating new seats for students. He says the bridging program will also be results-oriented.

“We will be providing that funding once the students have successfully completed a year of study,” Holder pointed out.

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Officials say the January 2020 class is already full.