Nursing student at Okanagan College speaks out over possible program merger with UBCO

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OC nursing student concerned about possible merger with UBCO
WATCH: A first-year nursing student at Okanagan College is expressing concern, after learning her program could soon be transferred to UBCO. – Apr 10, 2023

A first-year nursing student at Kelowna’s Okanagan College is speaking out after learning that her program may soon be transferred to UBC Okanagan.

Last week, the provincial government announced it intends to merge the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, which previously saw its first two years split between both Okanagan College and UBCO, to the university permanently in September. That has students like Brydie Todd feeling caught off guard.

“We hadn’t heard anything about it and neither had our instructors, it was just sprung on us,” explained the first-year nursing student.

“It also just feels like they didn’t consider at all our preferences or our needs going forward.”

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Todd was accepted into both nursing programs at Okanagan College and UBCO. She credits the college’s unique learning environment and smaller class size of 26 students as her reason for attending the institution in the first place.

She’s concerned about joining UBCO, because of the 150 other nursing students already in the program.

“That’s a major, major concern for us,” expressed Todd.

“If this does go forward, which we’re expecting it will, at least let us capitalize on those relationships we’ve built for the next year, while they go through that transition and figure things out, because I really truly believe it’ll make us better nurses.”

Click to play video: 'How new nurse-to-patient ratio will help improve patient care'
How new nurse-to-patient ratio will help improve patient care

A merger between the two institutions would also have some significant financial implications for students currently enrolled at the college.

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“We’ll be required to buy new uniforms, new textbooks, like there’s a lot of equipment that we are responsible for in addition to tuition, so those are unexpected costs, and commuting, for people who chose it because it was closer to where they live as well,” described Todd.

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Ultimately, Todd says she and her classmates still have questions that need answers before she feels confident about the potential merger.

“Our program started in 2011 in response to an increased need for space for nursing students that UBCO wasn’t able to meet,” said Todd. “So, our question is, how are they planning – in just a few short months – to increase their program to accommodate all 26 of us, when they weren’t able to meet that need 10 years ago.”

Global News reached out to the college, but no one was available for comment.

However, the school’s faculty association president did issue a statement.

“We were shocked the college made this announcement that has stunned and devastated our nursing faculty,” said Sharon Mansiere, faculty association president at Okanagan College.

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“This is a very successful program that consistently transitions BSN nursing students into our province’s post-secondary registered nursing streams exactly as community colleges are supposed to do. The program has waitlists several times its capacity.”

The students have been told that a final decision won’t be made until July or August, and if approved, it would cost the college students an additional $4,000 in tuition fees.

Global News has also reached out to the province for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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