The ribbon was cut Friday on one of Assiniboine Community College's (ACC) newest rural rotating Practical Nursing sites, located in Morden.

Students were welcomed to the program earlier in the week, including Kerri Froese. 

"I was really excited that they decided to open up this opportunity here in Morden," she said at Friday's grand opening event. "I think there's a lot of people here, like myself, who feel that we have something we can offer the community, but we are limited because the training was so far away."

ACC Nursing Student Kerri FroeseACC Nursing Student Kerri Froese

As a mom looking to grow her skills, Froese says she wouldn't be able to take this step if the program wasn't offered in Morden. 

"Today is a pretty wonderful day," added Brandon Burley, the City's Mayor. "I was mentioning to (ACC President) Mark (Frison) earlier that the first meeting I went to on behalf of the City was with Assiniboine Community College, and now in the second term one of the first meetings I'm going to is again, with Assiniboine Community College. To be able to provide post-secondary education in a much-needed sector, such as nursing, this close to home where people use and need that service, is very very smart," noting people who train local will stay local. 

"I think this is a great step forward to solving what is becoming a bit of a crisis in our region in the availability of healthcare staff," added Burley.

He thanked the Province of Manitoba for funding the initiative, and ACC for its partnership. 

"We want to make sure that Assiniboine Community College knows that we're full partners in this, that we intend to be right by their side. We want to encourage and grow this a meaningful and prudent way."

ACC President, Mark Frison, feels there is a lot of opportunity in the region.

"Certainly, the population-base here in the area is significant, and so it's great to have the training close to home given the hospitals will need nurses."

He was asked if Boundary Trails Health Centre played a role in Morden being selected as a program host. 

"It certainly does in terms of the health regions being involved in helping to pick the locations, and so they saw this as a significant area requiring more nurses."

In a news release, Jane Curtis, CEO of Southern Health-Sante Sud, said “Expansion of the rural rotating Practical Nursing diploma program in our region brings us one step closer to meeting the increasing demands to fill nursing positions. We are thrilled to partner with Assiniboine Community College and the Town of Morden to expand this program to Morden. This goes a long way in providing accessible post-secondary options in the eastern part of our province. This program is now offered in three locations in the Southern Health-Santé Sud region – Southport, Otterburne, and Morden.”

Manitoba Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Minister Jon Reyes added to the statement.

“Assiniboine’s ongoing expansion of its practical nursing program in both permanent and rural rotating sites will allow more students to become certified in this high-demand health-care occupation. Being able to attend training closer to home increases participation rates for rural students, which aligns with our government’s Skills, Training and Knowledge Strategy, supports our commitment to add 400 new nursing seats to meet Manitoba’s health sector needs and complements our health human resource action plan to retain, train and recruit more nurses.”

Practical Nursing is the largest single program of study at Assiniboine, with 100 per cent of graduates surveyed reporting they had jobs. Since 1975, more than 4,200 individuals have graduated from nursing programs offered by the college. 

In addition to rural rotating sites, the college has permanent Practical Nursing programs at its campuses in Brandon, Winnipeg, Dauphin and Portage la Prairie.