Twenty-four registered practical nurses (RPNs) from Hamilton Health Sciences went back to school today. Instead of heading to their respective hospitals for a busy shift caring for patients, they filed into a classroom to hear what the next three years of their lives will look like.
“This is about supporting our own family of colleagues through their professional development.”
They are the first cohort of a pilot project launched in collaboration between HHS, Mohawk College and McMaster University that allows RPNs to become educated as registered nurses (RNs) while they continue working at HHS.
Dianne Norman, manager of student affairs & academic relations at HHS, was a driving force behind the collaboration. “It’s exciting,” she says. “This is about supporting our own family of colleagues through their professional development.”
The idea for the program began over a year ago when managers at HHS started noticing their RPNs were leaving to work at other hospitals while they went to school to become RNs. 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.
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.
Godson Osifo is one of the RPNs beginning the program this fall. He works at Hamilton General Hospital caring for patients after cardiac surgery and helping them prepare to go home. He recently became a dad and wanted to be able to balance his home life with his education. “Having to work and also look after my family,” says Osifo, “This program gives me the opportunity to manage both.”
“We’re fortunate that our academic partner, Mohawk College, was so willing to explore this opportunity.”
Osifo anticipates the juggle of school, work and family will be a challenging one, but he’s optimistic and excited to have the organization he works for supporting him. “It’s been my dream,” he says. “I wanted to improve my nursing abilities and optimize my critical thinking skills.”
John Parker, director of interprofessional development, quality and performance portfolio at HHS, is excited to see nurses like Osifo start working towards their goals. By partnering with Mohawk College, HHS is able to provide as much support as possible for these students. “This is about demonstrating how we can deliver value to our HHS staff, both personally and professionally,” says Parker. “We’re fortunate that our academic partner, Mohawk College, was so willing to explore this opportunity.”
Over the course of three years, the students will take part in in-class learning as well as practical placements that they will be able to complete at HHS.
Lynn Miles, coordinator of the RPN to BScN program at Mohawk College, welcomed students this morning. She is eager to see how these experienced nurses will evolve over the course of the three-year degree. “I’m excited to see people who want change and growth for their future,” says Miles, “that’s exciting.”