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March 14, 2013 3:08 PM

Nursing students share their stories

A group of 2011 graduates from Conestoga’s Enhanced Nursing Practice and Clinical and Critical Care program gathered this past December to share their stories about their work at hospitals across Canada.

The graduates, all qualified as registered nurses in India, faced many challenges as they adapted to living in Canada, such as learning new ways of nursing, making new connections and finding jobs. The Conestoga program was designed to provide them with the additional training required for them to qualify as registered nurses in Canada.

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.


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