The post-graduate program, launched in 2010, enables internationally educated nurses to adapt to Canadian nursing practices, gain clinical experience in Canada and prepare to write the Canadian Registered Nurses Examination (CRNE), which qualifies them to work as registered nurses in Canada.
Giffy Justine was an emergency room nurse in India before he came to Canada. Now working at a busy hospital in Saskatchewan, he recognizes the role that Conestoga played in supporting his transition to working in Canadian health care and adjusting to Canadian culture. “Conestoga helped me lots. Because the college is a mix of cultures, I learned lots from the college,” he said.
According to Karen Towler, continuing education manager at Conestoga, the program is growing in popularity. “When we first started, we had 24 learners,” said Towler. “We are now on our third intake. We have 50 learners in the most recent intake and they are doing extremely well.”
Program graduates shared stories of working in small northern communities, often in hospitals where they are one of a staff of only two or three nurses. Many have found jobs in smaller, outlying communities. For most students, this ends up working to their advantage. One student recounted how the town has embraced him and he has been able to get to know his co-workers and patients and work a variety of different cases he wouldn’t normally see at a large hospital.
One shared sentiment among all the students was how much Conestoga helped them. This fact is not lost on Towler who said that Conestoga is expanding the program to offer a second one year program, Enhanced Nursing Practice- Gerontology and Chronic Illness starting in 2013.