UNBC pro­poses nurs­ing school in Fort St. John

The Prince George Citizen - - Local / Weather -

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.”

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