Bursary improves access to practical nursing program for health-care assistants

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Health-care assistants now have more financial support to become licensed practical nurses, helping them advance their careers, build a stronger future and develop the skills to provide more comprehensive care to people throughout the province.

A new bursary program will also help meet the increased demand for nursing staff in B.C.

“I’m proud to support health-care assistants in their continued pursuit of education to become licensed practical nurses,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “This bursary will create new avenues for individuals seeking long-term, rewarding and in-demand careers in our health-care system. It’s another step forward in a series of announcements to come addressing immediate health-care needs in B.C.”

The Province is providing a new $3-million bursary fund for health-care assistants registered in an access to practical nursing (APN) program from Sept. 1, 2021, to May 31, 2024, at a qualifying public post-secondary institution.

Qualifying institutions are any public post-secondary institution in B.C. offering an APN program recognized by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM). Currently, these include Coast Mountain College, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, North Island College and Vancouver Community College.

As part of the February 2022 nursing seat announcement, the Province committed to provide funding for the development of additional APN programs at Okanagan College, Vancouver Island University, North Island College and Northern Lights College.

“Together, we’re making a better life for British Columbians. We’re accomplishing this by improving access to much-needed health services in our province, and providing amazing career opportunities for people,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “With these bursaries, we’re making education more affordable and accessible for people to make the leap and upskill from health-care assistant positions to practical nursing; a valued career that is in very high demand.”

Each eligible health-care assistant will receive $10,000 to cover the cost of the program, including tuition and fee costs. Participants will be required to sign a 12-month return-of-service agreement, committing to work in the health-care system following graduation from the program.

“The past two years have reminded us how important it is that we provide the highest quality of care possible for our seniors,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors’ Services and Long-Term Care. “In order to uphold the reliable and best quality of care for our aging population, we need to train more health-care assistants and licensed practical nurses for the future, and this bursary is a step in the right direction.”

Expanding support for health-care assistants is one way the Province is addressing pressures placed on B.C.’s health system. This announcement builds on the 602 new nursing seats added to public post-secondary institutions throughout the province in February 2022 and 322 allied health-related seats in July 2022.

“Providing more supports for people to upskill and expand their careers is a key priority as we look to fill an expected one million job openings coming to B.C. over the next 10 years,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “Our government is committed to continuing our work with the health sector to find new ways to remove barriers to employment for people so we can increase the number of health-care staff available to support British Columbians as soon as possible.”

Learn More:

Learn more about the Health Career Access Program:

Learn more about B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan:

Learn more about support for internationally educated nurses:

Learn more about provincewide nursing seats:

Learn more about allied health seats:

Three backgrounders follow.


Facts about licensed practical nurses in B.C.

Licensed practical nurses play a significant role in front-line care delivery and are direct care providers who work with other members of the health-care team to promote and maintain the health, safety, independence, comfort and well-being of individuals and their families at all stages in life.

* Licensed practical nurses work in a variety of practice settings, including hospitals, residential care facilities, home and community care, clinics, schools, occupational/industrial health, correctional facilities, complex care and palliative care, as well as delivering personal care assistance and offering support to a variety of clients.
* These include providing care to older adults, people living with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses and clients who are receiving end-of-life care.

* Access to practical nursing (APN) programs are a unique career-laddering program for health-care assistants wanting to train as licensed practical nurses.

* APN programs allow students to apply training and experience garnered as a health-care assistant to accelerate their training as a licensed practical nurse.

* Nurses are in short supply and in high demand across the health system and all service delivery areas, yet significant financial barriers exist for health-care assistants who are looking to upskill as licensed practical nurses.

* Encouraging health-care assistants to enrol in this program through financial support will help retain health-care assistants and expedite the number of licensed practical nurses available to support more immediate staffing needs.

Bursary availability

As outlined below, close to 300 students in two categories are eligible for a $10,000 access to practical nursing (APN) bursary for an investment total of $2.94 million:

* newly registered APN students (September 2022 to May 2024 intakes)

* mid-stream APN student/soon-to-be graduates (beginning on or after September 2021)

The following post-secondary institutions offer or are planning to offer the APN program and are recognized as part of the bursary, subject to program recognition by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives and internal approvals:

Coast Mountain College

* Students in the September 2021 intake and January 2023 intake will be eligible for the bursary.

Nicola Valley Institute of Technology

* Students in the January 2022 intake are eligible for the bursary, as well as students in intakes beginning through May 2024.

Northern Lights College

* Students in the planned January 2023 and January 2024 intakes will be eligible for the bursary.

Vancouver Community College

* Students in the September 2021, September 2022 and September 2023 intakes will be eligible for the bursary.

Okanagan College

* Students in the planned March 2023 and March 2024 intakes will be eligible for the bursary.

Vancouver Island University

* Students in the planned May 2023 and May 2024 intakes will be eligible for the bursary.

North Island College

* Students in the November 2022 intake will be eligible for the bursary, as will students in intakes beginning through May 2024.


Requirements to apply for the bursary

* To receive the first bursary stipend for the first-term tuition fees, recipients must provide:
* proof of registration in a recognized B.C. public post-secondary institution’s access to practical nursing (APN) program; and

* a printout of their student account dated no sooner than two weeks after the start of the program with other required application documentation.

* A social insurance number is not required to apply for the bursary program, but is required to receive the reimbursement.

* APN program prerequisites vary between post-secondary institutions. For more information on prerequisites to enter the program, visit the post-secondary institutions’ websites:
* Nicola Valley Institute of Technology: https://www.nvit.ca/Access-To-Practical-Nursing-Diploma/program.aspx

* Coast Mountain College: https://catalogue.coastmountaincollege.ca/programs/access-practical-nursing/

* Vancouver Community College: https://www.vcc.ca/programscourses/health-sciences/nursing/access-to-practical-nursing/

* North Island College: https://www.nic.bc.ca/programs/health-human-services/practical-nursing/access-to-practical-nursing-pathway/

* Northern Lights College, Okanagan College and Vancouver Island University will post program information once their programs have completed all approval stages.

* New and mid-stream APN students applying for the APN Education Incentive Bursary must be registered with the BC Care Aide & Community Health Worker Registry.
* This step ensures that all bursary applicants meet the minimum standard professional requirements set out by the registry.

* New APN graduates applying for the APN Education Incentive Bursary must be registered with the BC College of Nurses and Midwives as part of the eligibility requirement.


Advanced Education and Skills Training, Government Operations, Health