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New northern nurses

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High gas prices aren't the only thing Albertans should be worried about. A much more serious crisis exists in the form of an acute shortage of heath-care workers, especially nurses.

To help meet this shortage, Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton will implement a four-year bachelor of science in nursing program beginning in fall 2007.

This is the third degree program in a college approved by the Alberta government since 2003.

"The Alberta Government was motivated to implement this program due to the shortages of registered nurses at the rural and urban levels and because of the stress that the aging population of Alberta will place on an already taxed Alberta health-care system," said Advanced Education spokesperson Erica McDonald.

Registered nurses constitute the largest health-care occupation and are responsible for treating patients, public education, patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

The Grant McEwan program will be phased in over a four-year period reaching a full-time enrollment capacity of 960 students by 2011.

The program was developed with the intention of making the BScN program more flexible and easier to access, said McDonald.

"The new bachelor of science in nursing program will improve access for students who benefit from smaller classes and increase the educational options for future nursing students," said McDonald.

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