January 7, 2019 - 9:00am
Candace Boland always knew she wanted a career that helped people. As a fourth-year nursing student at Vancouver Island University (VIU), she is close to achieving that goal.
“When I got started in the VIU Nursing program, I realized this felt right. This is where I am meant to be,” she says.
Born and raised on the Island, Boland and her three boys call Cobble Hill their home. She says uprooting her family or moving away from them to pursue post-secondary school wasn’t an option.
“If VIU didn’t offer the nursing program, that would have meant I wouldn’t have become a nurse,” she says.
Although it is a long commute, Boland says it gets easier each year as practicums increase and classroom time decreases. She says her program strongly focuses on leadership and preparing her for the workforce. Guest speakers from hospitals inform students on the aspects of becoming part of a union and what to expect once you are employed. Instructors assist students on writing their resumes and evaluate their work as if they were the ones hiring them for the job.
“They are doing a lot of work for us to get connected with the employers,” she says. “Nursing is in high-demand, and VIU is trying to support us in finding placements that would be the best match for us.”
For Boland, the best match for her is working in community. Up until third year, she intended to become an Operating Room Nurse, but when she served her community practicum, her focus shifted.
“I know I would make a great hospital nurse, but community is where I know I will do my best nursing,” she says.
Boland job shadowed for a day with a First Nations Health Authority nurse, and witnessed parts of the Nanaimo community she hadn’t been aware of before. She also worked with Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), a team operated by Island Health that is focused on supporting vulnerable people in society.
“I realized I want to work in a home community care office so I can care for people the way they want to be cared for,” she says.
According to the latest Economic Impact Report of the institution, VIU supports over 17,000 jobs, with a lot of them being nurses. Each year, 72 students are accepted into the Nursing program. Last year alone, Island Health accepted 62 VIU Nursing graduates into their organization. Island Health works closely with VIU to prepare students for their future careers in the health-care industry.
“Hiring students who have studied in our communities is very important to us – it means we have the opportunity to connect with students and build relationships with them before they graduate,” says Dawn Nedzelski, Island Health’s Chief Nursing Officer.
This year, VIU officially opened its new Centre for Health and Science – a facility that highlights the University’s commitment to providing innovative learning environments for students. The $40.9-million investment provides state-of-the art learning environments for students, including simulation hospital rooms.
VIU is projecting investments of roughly $400 million in capital projects from 2017-2026, which will generate close to $850 million in additional sales and equivalent to creating 5,689 new jobs.
“In the simulation classrooms, students can experience what it is like in a real-life situation – administering medicine, getting feedback from the patient and reviewing electronic records,” says Nedzelski. “It helps students solidify their skills in the field because they have already experienced the situation in the classroom.”
Boland is excited to be graduating this year and begin her career in the health-care industry. “When you are a nurse, people come to you when they are at their worst and you help them get better. That makes me feel really good,” she says.
Rae-Anne Guenther, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University