Victoria boosts LPN training seats as part of effort to address nursing shortage

A recent announcement by the Ministry of Advanced Education of a 28 per cent increase in training seats for Licenced Practical Nurses is a positive step that recognizes the important role that LPNs and care aides play in delivering health services for British Columbians, says HEU secretary-business manager Chris Allnutt. "It's obviously good news," says Allnutt of the increase of 45 new LPN training seats on top of the existing 160 seats offered at a number of B.C. colleges. Twenty of those new seats are dedicated to LPN access programs which harness the expertise of care aides through a special program that allows them to train as LPNs. All 45 will be implemented during the 2000/01 academic year. Care aide training seats have also been increased, although the union has not yet been notified of how many and where. "LPNS and care aides play a key role in developing solutions to the nursing shortage that's plaguing B.C. health care facilities. We're pleased that health minister Mike Farnworth and advanced education minister Graeme Bowbrick have both recognized the need to provide increased training opportunities for these important members of the nursing team." The largest increase will take place at Vancouver Community College, where 20 LPN access seats and five new LPN training seats will be added to the collegeís current 80-seat complement. At Malaspina College in Nanaimo, 12 new LPN seats will be offered in addition to the 30 existing seats. And the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook will get eight more on top of 25 the east Kootenays institution already has. Allnutt says the new LPN access seats were particularly crucial to achieve. "Through the work of HEUís Nursing Team committee, demand for the LPN access program is significant. These 20 new seats are an important first step, and weíre committed to working with the ministries of advanced education and health to achieve a greater increase in the access program next year." The only disappointment is the College of New Caledonia didnít get approval for a new LPN program. LPNs are more widely used in northern health care facilities, and Allnutt says that it's unfortunate that the program wasnít approved at the Prince George college, which would have allowed LPNs to train closer to home. "The announcement of new training seats," says Allnutt, "is a good head start for Nursing Week, May 8 to 14, in which HEU nursing team activists from across the province will be planning special events around the theme ìletís get active!"