Conestoga news

September 15, 2004 3:04 PM

Ontario Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner Program Expands to Conestoga College

Innovative program will train McMaster University students close to home

Kitchener, Ont. (Sept. 15, 2004) - Area students attending the Ontario Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner program at McMaster University don't have to commute to its Hamilton campus, they're taking their classes at Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.

In a unique collaboration, McMaster and Conestoga have arranged for classes, tutorials and lab time for the nurse practitioner students to be spent at the college's Doon campus. Clinical work will be done at Kitchener-Guelph area medical practices.

This fall 13 students have enrolled for McMaster's one-year certificate program hosted at Conestoga. There are an additional 13 students in the program at the Hamilton campus. All are nurses with their Bachelor of Health Sciences (Nursing) degree.

Primary health care nurse practitioners are expert nurses with additional education and skills to provide and respond to primary health care needs. Often the front-line of Ontario's healthcare, they are able to diagnose and treat everyday illnesses and injuries and order some prescriptions and laboratory tests, but on a more limited scale than a physician. They also work in health promotion, such as nutrition, and assist patients in managing chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure, and help in prevention of illness.

Graduates are in demand as the province has increased nurse practitioner positions in the health care system, partly due to the shortage of physicians and in response to the Ontario government's initiative which places increased emphasis on primary health care.

"We firmly believe in the value of teaching health professionals in the community where they live and where they will work," says Dr. John Kelton, dean and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster.

"We have an excellent relationship with Conestoga College with our established nursing program consortium, and this development extends our partnership."

John Tibbits, president of Conestoga College says, "Conestoga views this agreement as an enhancement of our own reputation for excellence in health sciences education, and as an advancement of the productive relationship we have enjoyed with McMaster University through the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

"I consider the availability of the nurse practitioner program as an important step forward in the quality and diversity of health care in our region, consistent with the essential new directions in the field advocated by the Government of Ontario."