By Robert Frank
Quebec health minister Réjean Hébert has rejected a bid by the Quebec order of nurses to make a bachelor degree mandatory for new entrants to the profession.
The ruling was good news for the West Island’s John Abbott College which, like many other CEGEPs, has for nearly a half-century been training nurses as part of its array of three-year professional career programs.
“In the end, all nurses write the same licensing exam,” observed John Abbott nursing chair Teresa Berghello. “There is only one standard to become qualified as a nurse. They are all tested on the same objectives and, once they pass, are deemed to have the same competency level.”
“At John Abbott, we’re very happy with the nurses whom we have graduated,” she added. “They have been very successful with respect to licensing, and are in demand in Quebec, elsewhere in Canada and abroad.”
Berghello noted that other provinces recognize the qualifications that John Abbott and other CEGEP-qualified nurses have earned.
“Across Canada, we have reciprocity,” she explained. “Students who earn a license to practice nursing in Quebec can get a license in other provinces where a bachelor degree is a minimum requirement. It’s a vote of confidence by other provinces.”
“We are constantly adjusting our curriculum in order to ensure that we continue to respond to the health care needs of our society,” Berghello said. “We’re confident that we’re still able to meet the needs of our hospitals.”
She acknowledged that Quebec has long mooted making university studies mandatory.
“Even when I was training as a nurse, there were rumours that in the long-term, a bachelor degree would be made a minimum entry qualification,” Berghello recalled. “As professionals, we definitely support the profession advancing and increasing its level of education, but from our point of view, the nursing program is one of John Abbott College’s first career programs, it has been effective and we have been developing good nurses here for about 45 years.”
Some 60-75 regular and 30-35 continuing education students graduate from John Abbott’s nursing program each year.
The school also offers specialized programs for international nurses.
Quebec, like the rest of Canada, continues to face a shortage of qualified nurses.
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