A unique new collaboration between Hamilton Health Sciences, Mohawk College and McMaster University is making it easier for registered practical nurses (RPNs) to upgrade their credentials. This September, a pilot group of 25 students will begin an RPN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program created exclusively for HHS employees.
The idea for the program began one year ago when managers at HHS started noticing their RPNs were leaving to go work at other hospitals while they went to school to become registered nurses. Because HHS wasn’t partnered with a school that was flexible enough for these RPNs to continue working, the organization was losing valuable, ambitious staff. HHS leaders immediately began working on a solution.
“We’ve let them drive the design and the delivery.”
Over the course of several months, a team at HHS led by manager of student affairs & academic relations, Dianne Norman, consulted with RPNs to find out what they were looking for in an RPN to BScN program. Norman says many of them were adamant about in-class rather than online learning, but needed to continue working to support their families. They also envisioned their future at HHS and wanted to remain with the organization during and after their schooling. Donna Rawlin, associate dean of health sciences at Mohawk College was brought on to help build a custom program, just for them. The result is a 3-year pilot program that accommodates the work-life-school balance needed by the RPNs that are so valuable to HHS. “We’ve let them drive the design and the delivery,” says Norman.
So far, over 100 HHS RPNs have expressed interest in applying to the program. Lynn Miles, coordinator of the RPN to BScN program at Mohawk College has headed two information sessions and is looking forward to welcoming the special cohort of students in just a few months. “I’m excited to see people who want change and growth for their future,” says Miles, “that’s exciting.”
The 25 who are selected will begin school in September, taking a combination of classes from Mohawk College and McMaster University. They will graduate with a BscN from McMaster and will be eligible to work as registered nurses.