Provincial funding to boost nursing enrollment at Lambton College

RPN and Lambton College student Courtney Cheswick speaking with MPP Jill Dunlop and Lambton College President and CEO Rob Kardas. 21 July 2021. (Photo by Lambton College)

Up to 65 nurses will be added to the health care system in Sarnia thanks to some provincial funding earmarked for nursing programs at Lambton College.

The province is providing up to $591,942 to support an additional 60 new students in the practical nursing program and an additional five new students in the nursing baccalaureate program.  The funding was announced during an event at the college Wednesday morning.

Bluewater Health Chief Nursing Executive Shannon Landry said the funding will help build nursing positions in the local hospital.

“So when we bring the nurses here, educate them here, give them the practicums at Bluewater Health, they’re more apt to stay in our community. So we’ll have more nurses staying in our community to really ensure that we have a stable workforce,” she said. “Nursing is a calling. Compassion and kindness are needed in nursing, and anyone who loves to care for people and has compassion would love nursing. It’s a lifelong career.”

Registered Practical Nurse and Lambton College student Courtney Cheswick is going into her third year of the Bachelor of Science Nursing program between Lambton and the University of Windsor. She said nurses are needed.

“We do have shortages of nursing and frontline staff and we do need more people out there, but I always say to my friends and family, nursing is a hard working job, it needs compassion, it needs a big heart, and nurses need to be available for their patients emotionally, physically, everything like that.”

Cheswick said this past year at Lambton presented some challenges.

“We had to adapt to virtual learning, but Lambton College did such an amazing job adapting to that to make the program run smooth and to make sure the opportunities were there for the students.”

College President and CEO Rob Kardas said Wednesday’s announcement will really help Sarnia-Lambton’s healthcare system emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever before.

“We know through the pandemic that there’s certainly more nurses needed, both locally in our region and in our province, so this is going to really help with increased nursing graduates.”

Kardas said there a number of things that make the nursing programs at Lambton College stand out.

“I think our faculty are extremely committed to our students and extremely committed to excellence in nursing education. And then I think our facilities speak for themselves — the NOVA Health & Research Centre has been a game changer for Lambton College in terms of the upgrade to labs and just teaching space,” said Kardas. “These students now, when they go out to do clinicals, it’s very seamless for them because of the labs we have here that really mimic a hospital floor type setting.”

The funding is a part of the Ontario government’s $35-million investment to increase enrollment in nursing education programs in publicly-assisted colleges and universities across the province.