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In crisis or calm: U of R Faculty of Nursing reimagines programs; celebrates profession

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: May 15, 2020 3:00 p.m.

It's International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and National Nursing Week, but we know that nurses play a critical role in the healthcare system each and every day.
It's International Year of the Nurse and Midwife and National Nursing Week, but we know that nurses play a critical role in the healthcare system each and every day. Photo: courtesy Faculty of Nursing

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the restart button on major plans in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Regina. This includes everything from Spring, Summer, and Fall program delivery to celebration of the World Health Organization’s International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, which marks the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. 

Dr. Robin Evans
Dr. Robin Evans, Dean,
Faculty of Nursing

“All plans are on hold at the moment, but we will find a way to recognize the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife once the time is right," said Dr. Robin Evans, Dean, Faculty of Nursing at the University of Regina.

With the announcement that the University would not be offering face-to-face classes, in short order, members of the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Regina and their program partners at Saskatchewan Polytechnic embraced the challenges of program delivery posed by COVID-19.

“Working with our colleagues at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the Faculty has been really creative and come up with alternative ways for delivering our programming,” stressed Evans. 

In partnership with Saskatchewan Polytechnic, the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Regina offers two collaborative nursing programs: the Saskatchewan Collaborative Bachelor of Science (SCBScN) program and the Collaborative Nurse Practitioner (CNPP) graduate program. As of 2018, 50% of the SCBScN program is also being offered in French for students wanting to take part of their undergraduate nursing degree in the French language.

“The collaborative partnered with La Cité universitaire francophone to create the province’s only French/English bilingual option for students,” said Evans.

Both programs include hands-on clinical practice in various areas of the health care sector as a requirement of obtaining nursing degrees. With COVID-19, the implementation of clinical placements has been disrupted and has caused program administrators to change course alignment and consider alternative ways to accomplish many of the program objectives virtually. 

Thanks to their hard work, and the guidance of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, nursing students in the two programs are more closely on track to finish their course requirements. It’s required more than a little leadership, flexibility, and ingenuity by instructors, especially when it comes to lab work. 

For the Spring semester, offerings of third- and fourth-year online courses were increased to enable students to have more flexibility and focus on clinical courses for the Fall. With the SHA’s announcement last week that clinical courses could start again in the Summer semester, the theory courses offered in July and August were changed to clinical courses. It is clear that keeping nursing students on track to graduate is a high priority. 

“With the help of the Registrar’s Office, we have created an extended semester. The Fall term will be starting August 10 and will run until December 23,” explained Evans. “The term will be divided into three six-week blocks of clinical courses for our third-year and some of our fourth year students. This change helps to ensure that the students are able to finish their program when they were originally supposed to.” 

Through these challenging times, says Evans, the world is developing a much deeper understanding of the vast role of the nurse within the health care system. She is hearing stories about many people who recognize the skills, compassion and leadership that nurses bring to health care. 

“The University of Regina’s Faculty of Nursing is honoured to be part of creating nursing professionals who have the theoretical knowledge and clinical experience to lead the way – putting the needs of the patient front and centre during crisis or calm.” 

Since its creation in 2009, the U of R’s Faculty of Nursing has been demonstrating leadership in nursing research, education, and practice, helping to build future generations of nurses. In 2020, the Faculty of Nursing celebrated its 11th anniversary and has almost 1,600 undergraduate, masters, and doctoral alumni.