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Providing solutions to the nursing shortage through education

Posted on October 18, 2022

students in the Access to Practice Nursing program
Students in VCC's Access to Practical Nursing program 

Listen, watch, or read the news on any given day and you will see story after story of an over-burdened health care system caused, in part, by a short supply of nurses. One way to combat this issue is to reduce financial barriers to education so that more individuals enroll in nursing programs.

In August, B.C. Health Minister, Adrian Dix and Advanced Education and Skills Training Minister, Anne Kang announced the province will be providing a $3-million bursary fund for health care assistants registered in an access to practical nursing (APN) program at qualifying public post-secondary institutions. Currently, Vancouver Community College (VCC) is one of only four colleges in B.C., and the only one in Metro Vancouver, that qualifies for this bursary.

Eligible students will receive $10,000 which covers more than 75% of APN program tuition costs at VCC. In return, students must agree to work for 12 months in the province’s health care system upon graduation.

VCC’s APN program is a thirteen-month program open to individuals who have at least 600 hours of experience as a health care assistant (HCA). The HCA program is also offered by the college.

“Access to Practical Nursing is an excellent pathway for health care assistants wanting to become a licensed practical nurse,” remarked Janita Schappert, VCC Practical Nursing Department Head. “We know that workplace burnout is a real issue amongst nurses. A key component of VCC’s APN program is fostering a supportive environment where students can find camaraderie and share their experiences of working in the health care system.”

VCC has a long history of providing educational excellence in nursing. Earlier this year, the Practical Nursing program was one of the first to earn accreditation from the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) – the “gold standard” for nursing education in Canada. Until 2021, this designation was only given to schools that offered Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) programs. VCC’s BScN program was accredited by CASN in 2016.

“VCC grads have an excellent reputation within the community and have been critical in filling the gaps in our health care system,” said Jo-Ellen Zakoor, VCC Dean, Health Sciences. “Whether you access health care through a hospital, clinic, residential care facility or a number of other health care settings, chances are you’ve been taken care of by a graduate of VCC.”

VCC APN students in the September 2021, September 2022 and September 2023 intakes will be eligible for the bursary. Learn more about the APN Education Incentive Bursary.