Collaborative Nurse Practitioner Program graduates two 2021 classes.

By Iryn Tushabe

Posted: February 26th, 2022


grad class

Katelynn Hartman overcame many hardships to graduate, with great distinction, from the Collaborative Nurse Practitioner Program (CNPP) offered through a partnership between Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the University of Regina. At one point the mother of two young children was without a home, following a divorce.

“I lived out of my car for about a month and a bit during my final practicum,” says the graduate Nurse Practitioner, adding that looking back now, she wonders how she managed to stay on top of her online classes, let alone graduate at the top of her class.

At the pinning ceremony jointly held virtually for the Summer and Fall CNPP graduates, both Meghan Fleury and Hartman were presented the Dean’s Award in recognition of their achieving the highest grade average in their respective cohorts.crane

“Having this painting is something that will always remind me of everything I went through all at once,” Hartman said of the award, a painting by the Indigenous artist Cliff Dubois. “It was the hardest time in my life, I had every excuse to quit, but I persisted, and I excelled.”

The pinning ceremony is a unique time-honoured tradition dating back to the 12th century where pins were presented to those dedicated to caring for the sick and injured. Florence Nightingale, considered the mother of modern nursing, presented the medal of excellence to her brightest graduates. “It’s an important symbol of the student’s hard work, marking their transition from registered nurse to nurse practitioners,” said Dr. Larry Rosia, President and CEO of the Saskatchewan Polytechnic, at the ceremony where nine graduates received their pins.

Presenting the two groups of graduates for 2021, Frankie Verville who is the CNPP program head at Sask Polytech, said that in previous years the pins were presented to the students in person. But for the past two years, due to the pandemic, staff mailed the pins out to each graduate with the request that the students would share pictures of themselves being pinned by someone who was influential in their ability to complete the program. Staff compiled the photos into a PowerPoint slideshow, which they played during the virtual pinning ceremony.

Bringing greetings from the Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners where she currently serves as president, Tara Schmalenberg congratulated the students upon entering a field of nursing that is increasingly in high demand. Herself a 2018 graduate of the CNPP program, she said it was an exciting time to be a nurse practitioner.

“The last three years of my nursing career have been the most challenging and yet the most fulfilling and rewarding of my career to date,” she said, adding that far beyond what was possible in her capacity as a registered nurse, being a nurse practitioner has enabled her to build relationships with her patients and to make meaningful changes to their health. “I care for generations of people within families, and I have the absolute joy of seeing how the care I provide positively impacts not only individuals and families, but my community.”

Some of the recent graduates are already employed as grad NPs even as they prepare to sit their national licensing exam in May.

Hartman is working under the mentorship of her Nurse Practitioner preceptor Michelle O’keefe, serving the communities of Indian Head, Montmartre, Odessa, and Grenfell.

“People book appointments with either me or Michelle and we go to each of these clinics and meet with them,” Hartman said, expressing gratitude for O’keefe’s mentorship. “If I have a question, I can just go and ask her.”