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New and improved nursing program at Sault College closer to reality

School will no longer have to partner with Sudbury’s Laurentian University, once bureaucratic hurdles are crossed under terms of impending new agreement
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Though it’s good news as far as Sault College’s nursing program is concerned, there are still a few official hoops to jump through before the local post secondary institution is allowed to grant standalone nursing degrees without partnering with a university (in this case, Sudbury’s Laurentian University).

The college has been partnered with Laurentian since 2001 to deliver a collaborative Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program.

“It’s good news for our community and the neighbouring communities because we’re going to be able to meet an unmet demand for more degreed nurses. Until this announcement, we have not been able to increase our enrolment because our partner (Laurentian) controls our nursing enrolment levels, and this will give us greater opportunity and flexibility in programming and admissions,” said Ron Common, Sault College president, addressing the Sault College board of governors at its regular monthly meeting Thursday.

The transition for Sault College to standalone nursing degree granting status will be a multi-step process, explained Marilyn King, Sault College health, community services and interdisciplinary studies dean, speaking to the board.

“We haven't really set an absolute date because it’s going to depend on how these processes roll out... we get the okay, but then all the processes have to be in place, so as long as those processes are smooth, it could be as early as September of 2021, but it could be later, depending on how things go.”

As far as the impact on enrolment goes, King, speaking to SooToday in her office after Thursday’s meeting, said the college currently has 237 students enrolled across the board in its four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.

King said once the new standalone Sault College degree granting nursing program is up and running, the school should be able to receive as many as approximately 85 first year nursing students, graduates receiving their degrees with Sault College’s name on their diplomas (in comparison, that’s an increase from the 61 nursing students who started their studies in September 2019).

“Some people will question whether or not it’s as valuable as a university (diploma). It will be,” King said.

“All the universities and colleges that are preparing nurses have to meet certain standards through the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO).”

Steps Sault College must go through before getting the green light for its standalone Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program, King said, include:

  • A ‘dissolution plan,’ developed with collaborative partners (Laurentian University)
  • Application for ministerial consent
  • Submission of a business case 
  • A notice of intent to the CNO (which, King said, would involve a minor alteration in wording under provincial legislation from 1991)
  • Approval of Sault College’s program by the CNO
  • Assessment by the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board (PEQAB) Accreditation by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN) 

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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