UNBC proposes nursing school in Fort St. John
A plan for a nursing school in Fort St. John is in the hands of the advanced education ministry and UNBC president Daniel Weeks believes a green light from the province could come soon.
Weeks, recently confirmed for a second term to lead the university, was in Fort St. John Thursday for a board meeting and alumni gathering.
He said the university and Northern Lights College have put forward an attractive proposal for the province to consider, and will be forging ahead with campus renovations in anticipation of an approval.
“The real sweet spot, so to speak, in this is the strong partnership we’ve developed with the college. I think that’s going to be the thing that’s going to tip this now in our favour,” Weeks said.
“It makes sense. We don’t need to reinvent these programs and try to duplicate what each other is doing.
“It’s better we leverage the strengths of both institutions in a way that makes it better for the potential students in the north.”
Talks between the university and college, along with Northern Health and the City of Fort St. John, began in earnest in February.
Northern Health projects Northeast B.C. will need an average of 78 registered nurses per year over the next four years to fill staffing gaps, a number officials fear will only get worse if education needs aren’t addressed.
Weeks couldn’t predict the government’s timeline for approval, but said campus renovations will begin in the meantime.
“It’s hard to know, I think it could come sooner than later. They’re on their timeframe,” he said.
“In the meantime, we have work to do as well to get ready. We’ll be renovating some of the space here at the campus we share in Fort St. John with Northern Lights College. We’ll renovate some of that space to get ready for this program. Things are moving ahead as we would expect them and I’m confident that we’ll get there.”