posted Sept. 10: Collaborative nursing program sets new course for nursing education


[img_inline align=”right” src=””]Be they pioneers or guinea pigs, students enrolled in the new
Collaborative Bachelor of Science Nursing Program offered
jointly by McMaster, Mohawk College and Conestoga College are looking
forward to their first year.

The McMaster program is the largest collaborative program in
the province which fully integrates college and university
students through all four years of study.

There are now 226 first-year students enrolled in McMaster's
BScN program: 68 at the Mohawk site, 36 at the Conestoga site
and 100 at the McMaster site who will spend the next four years
studying for their Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Also,
under special government funding, an additional 22 students
have entered the fast-track BScN program at the McMaster site.

It's a degree they'll need come 2005. Under new provincial
government and College of Nurses of Ontario regulations, all
graduating nurses will need to have a baccalaureate degree in
nursing to become licensed to practise as a registered nurse.
The three-year diploma program offered by the colleges will be
phased out.

The increasing complexity of health care and the need for more
highly qualified nurses has led to this change in the educational
requirements. The collaborative program was developed by the
three institutions in response to this need for more highly
qualified nurses in the province and to meet the provincial
requirements for registration.

“I'm excited about the program and there is some pride in
learning you're among the first group to go through it,” says Lisa
Shingler, who is taking the program through href=””>Conestoga College in
Kitchener. “The instructors are very enthusiastic and everyone is
ready to help.”

“You're pioneers and you're risk takers,” Catherine Tompkins,
McMaster School of Nursing professor and assistant dean of the
BScN Program, told the nursing students from href=””>Mohawk College during
an orientation last week at McMaster's Institute for Applied Health
Sciences. “You've come to a program that's never been offered


The degree offered through the collaborative program will be a
McMaster degree. Students will study and learn under the
McMaster model of problem-based, small group and
self-directed learning. Courses will be taught at the three sites
and will be offered by instructors and faculty from all three
institutions using new learning technologies in the classrooms.
The three institutions have jointly modified the existing model
and philosophy of nursing to reflect the values of the three

“We're very excited and have looked forward to this day with great
anticipation,” remarked McMaster School of Nursing associate
professor Mabel Hunsberger, consortium co-ordinator for the
collaborative program. “This is an historic occasion.”

Any trepidation the students had was likely allayed following
orientation sessions on Tuesday at both McMaster and
Conestoga. Instructors and administrators from all three
institutions met with students to make introductions, outline the
program and answer questions. Mohawk College students will
be taking their courses at McMaster, many in the
McMaster-Mohawk shared Institute for Applied Health Sciences.

“The (orientation session) really helped,” says Angela
Struthmann of Kitchener. “Technically, we'll be students at both
campuses (McMaster and Conestoga) so we'll have the benefits
of two campuses.” With two student cards in hand, Struthmann
and fellow students will virtually double their access to services
and resources and have a foot on both campuses.

The burning question for many students at orientation centred on
the degree and what it will mean.

“Will you get the same degree? Exactly,” Pat Ellis, Level I
consultant for all three programs and an associate professor of
nursing at McMaster, reassured students at Conestoga. “Will you
get it in the same way? Probably not. Every student experience is
different. You will do it your own way.”

Rosemary Knechtel, dean of the faculty of health sciences and
human services at Mohawk College, described the program
launch as the beginning of the next step in nursing education.
“This is a huge step in nursing education where a college and
university have come together in partnership to offer this

Photo top(left to right): Bill Jeffrey, dean of the school of health
sciences and community services, Conestoga College, Daphne
Cheung, member of the McMaster University Nursing Society
and Amber Wooldridge, BScN nursing student at
McMaster-Conestoga, celebrate the launch of the new
collaborative nursing program.

Photo below: McMaster nursing professor Catherine
Tompkins addresses Mohawk students at their orientation last
week in the Institute for Applied Health Sciences.