B.C. hospitals welcome TWU nursing students to help meet health care crisis

Note: The Vancouver Sun highlighted one of TWU's recent nursing graduates in the May 13th issue. To view the article go to:

Langley, British Columbia—B.C.’s current health care crisis could dishearten the best of students who will enter the province’s nursing profession this spring. But ask Trinity Western University’s student nurses who are completing their final clinical training in hospitals throughout the Lower Mainland and Greater Vancouver, and they’ll tell you that the future looks good.

“The opportunities are endless with the nursing shortage,” says Kara Bennett, who will graduate from TWU with a Bachelor of Science in nursing and is currently training in the pediatric surgical unit at BC Children’s Hospital.

TWU student Jodie Keller, at Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge, agrees. “Lots of community placements have allowed us to see the broad scope of nursing opportunities,” says Keller. “It’s exciting knowing that there is a need for eager new nurses who want to make a difference.”

Over the next few weeks, Bennett and Keller, along with nearly 30 TWU nursing students graduating this year, will complete 24 shifts alongside nursing mentors in hospitals throughout the Lower Mainland and Greater Vancouver.

“We’ve been able to partner with employers to help students become familiar with health care settings and make that transition into the real world of nursing go much smoother as a result,” says Sheryl Reimer Kirkham, a professor of nursing at TWU. “As difficult as it is to begin practice during a nursing shortage—because the support you would like isn’t always in place—there are so many opportunities in the nursing field. That’s the positive side of current conditions.”

A nurse who has worked in a variety of clinical settings and also instructs in the health care stream of TWU’s Masters of Administrative Leadership program, Reimer Kirkham is keenly aware of issues her students will face.

“In their four years as students, they’ve been witness to a lot of change and turmoil in health care, and the uncertainties and challenges continue,” says Reimer Kirkham, who earned the Governor General’s Gold Medal, the highest academic award given in Canada, for her PhD health care research at the University of British Columbia.

Reimer Kirkham’s experience and research have helped her prepare students to excel in nursing practice and understand additional aspects of nursing such as ethical decision-making, professional practice issues and interdisciplinary perspectives.

“Our students hold a deep commitment to be excellent clinicians who come alongside people in difficult times of life,” says Reimer Kirkham. “And they’re more politically informed as they consider what will bring about good health care and what kind of programming and policies will support health care.”

For the TWU students finishing their final nursing placements, knowledgeable practitioners in Lower Mainland and Greater Vancouver hospitals will help them gain the confidence and skills to successfully step into B.C.’s challenging nursing profession.

“These placements are quite important because they can really set the students up for their first couple of years of practice,” says Reimer Kirkham. “We try to individualize the placements and give students the type of experience that will help them launch into the practice area that they’re interested in. And in the past, many of them have been offered positions where they’ve done their preceptorships.”

While Reimer Kirkham admits that her students will have to dig deep to find ways to bring about positive changes in B.C.’s health care system, she adds, “It’s part of our educational mandate to prepare nurses who will influence change for the good, and who will provide leadership with vision.”

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a privately funded Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,000 students this year. With a broad-based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 34 major areas ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 12 graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2007-09-26