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Updated Lethbridge nursing program focuses on advocacy, reconciliation

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The NESA BN collaborative University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College nursing program has received an overhaul that includes 25 new courses and a variety of updated, community-based focuses. As Emily Olsen reports, first semester students are almost through the first stage of the program rollout – Oct 23, 2020

The curriculum for nursing students in Lethbridge has received an overhaul. 

The revamped University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College NESA BN program is already well into its first semester.

Read more: COVID-19 punctuates National Nursing Week for new grads

“When students log in, they’re greeted by their peers as well as their instructor and spend that time working through the curriculum and receiving support in live time,” said Liz Cernigoy, college instructor and First and Second Year Program Chair, “which is something we really wanted to offer to our students in the curriculum.”

Cernigoy says new focuses like strength and resiliency have come at the perfect time.

“When we started creating these courses four years ago, we had no idea that the year we would launch our new curriculum in 2020 would be the year of a global pandemic, and how much support people need with those types of skills,” Cernigoy said.

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The overhaul includes 25 new courses for the four-year program, which include a strong focus on leadership and advocacy –both within health care and in the larger community.

“We talk about what policy advocacy looks like,” Spenceley said.

“And how are we showing up to, say, decision makers, and showing up at tables where decisions are being made and getting ourselves there?”

Read more: Alberta nurses’ union calls on AHS to bring back paid leave as COVID-19 pandemic continues

The program also includes courses on reconciliation and partnership with Indigenous communities and teachings.

”We have two required courses in the first term,” Spenceley said. “One is a course on Indigenous studies at the college, which talks about the history of residential schools, the emergence of Indigenous ways of knowing and how they inform, or should inform, nursing practice and the profession.”

Read more: AHS seeks to eliminate Indigenous health-care barriers with new patient navigator

Spenceley added that the program centres itself around diverse, big-picture, community-based thinking.

“[We’re putting] a stronger emphasis on addictions in our mental health area.

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“We also wanted to have more emphasis on the role of technology: virtual healthcare, artificial intelligence, big data, all of those things that are transforming health care around us.”

Students are challenged to think outside of their own health perspectives in order to provide more comprehensive and informed care.

Read more: UCP approves policy to create private health-care system in Alberta

“Students are saying they’re being stretched to think in different ways within this course, which is exciting,” Cernigoy said. “That’s really what we wanted when we designed it.”

College and U of L officials say that after more than four years of preparation and stakeholder input, the program is one they’re proud to roll out with new students.