New home for nursing program awaits funding

Nursing students and faculty are currently spread out over campus. (Martin McFarlane/The Omega)

Nursing students and faculty are currently spread out over campus. (Martin McFarlane/The Omega)

Nursing students and faculty may finally have a shared home on campus as the university looks for funding to build a new nursing and population health building.

The proposed new building is now at the top of the list of building projects after TRU’s Industrial Training and Technology Centre received funding from the federal and provincial governments, which was announced last week. The nursing building has been on the list for six years.

The building would allow for new seats in the nursing program, which currently rejects 77 per cent of applications largely due to lack of space, according to TRU’s VP Advancement Chris Seguin.

The space issue is not just for student seats. The nursing faculty are currently split between offices in the Ken Lepin (science) building and the faculty annex. Dean of the Nursing Donna Murnaghan wants all nursing faculty to be in the same area, as is done with other programs.

“They don’t have a sense of togetherness based on where we are right now,” Murnaghan said.

The project will cost $31 million in total, but according to Seguin, $8 million is first needed to “get the greenlight.”

“We are actively looking to the province and applying for funding moving forward,” Seguin said.

If the government were to invest the $8 million needed to start the project, the university would fund the rest with its undesignated surplus, institutional funding and private fundraising.

Funding for the new building also has benefits for science students beyond having the space previously taken by the nursing program.

“When they move out to the new building we would be able to renovate the existing science building and make opportunities for science students as well,” Seguin said.

According to Murnaghan, the new building would feature rooms for simulation to better prepare students in a lower-stakes environment for a variety of scenarios in hospitals, community care and health care centres.

“Our students are very highly qualified when they graduate. We’re very proud of them, and we just figure we can kick it up a notch higher if we have the proper resources for them,” Murnaghan said.

The facility would also be suitable for students completing residencies in Kamloops and would allow TRU to introduce the masters of nursing program currently in development, widening nurses’ scope of practice.

“It would create leaders, teachers, nurses that can do more than they can in the [health care] system right now,” Seguin said.

“Creating new programming is challenging. But strengthening and expanding the programming that we already have empowers our students, empowers our community, and there’s less risk in expanding an incredibly successful programming like nursing.”

No timeline has been set for construction, but the university hopes are to secure funding within 18 months.