Heritage College offers 3-year nursing program here

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Jill Mackay
 
SHAWVILLE – There was a feeling of anticipation and inspiration as 25-plus students readied themselves for the nursing program which started October 7 at Pontiac High School. Administered through Heritage College, graduates of the 3-year course will qualify to write the provincial Registered Nursing exams.

Jill Mackay
 
SHAWVILLE – There was a feeling of anticipation and inspiration as 25-plus students readied themselves for the nursing program which started October 7 at Pontiac High School. Administered through Heritage College, graduates of the 3-year course will qualify to write the provincial Registered Nursing exams.
Deborah Valdais, Heritage’s Director of Student Services, says, “This is a golden opportunity to get the training so close to home, with so much community support.” According to Valdais, measures are needed to keep the Pontiac Community Hospital going, anticipating the nurses retiring over the next five years. Several community partners came together to address the issue: CSSS du Pontiac, Heritage College, Emploi-Québec, and the Western Quebec School Board. “A public meeting was held last fall to assess the public’s interest in a nursing program located in Shawville and the response was very strong,” says Valdais.
According to Valdais, recruiting was relatively easy with prospective students coming from both Heritage College and Emploi-Québec. The major obstacle seemed to be the high school science requirement, which students need to complete to be eligible for the program. Valdais was clear on the program’s strengths. “It’s offered to those who live in the Pontiac, fostering commitment. Most of the students have a background related to health, so they have few romantic notions,” says Valdais.
Many of the students will receive weekly financial aid from Emploi Quebec, including the cost of books, uniform, and gas mileage. Students will have summer jobs in the hospital or other local health facilities and a virtual guarantee of a job once they pass the board exams.
“Adult learners are highly motivated, and likely to complete the program, while those coming directly from high school are strong academically, with family support,” continues Valdais. “The challenge will be sticking to the program over the three years.” To address challenges, such as an unforeseen illness, a coordinator will be based at PHS to provide support on all levels.