Georgian College offers new RPN-to-RN nursing degree program

A brand-new program at Georgian College will help students who already have their registered practical nurse (RPN) designation bridge into a career as a registered nurse (RN).

Georgian is the only postsecondary institution in Central Ontario to offer a bridge program from RPN to RN.

The program is available at the Barrie, Orangeville and Owen Sound campuses starting in fall 2024, allowing RPNs already practising in the area an opportunity to obtain their nursing degree locally and then remain in the community working as a RN.

We are thrilled to provide this pathway for career advancement to the RPNs in our local communities. This continues Georgian’s long-standing commitment to providing local nursing education designed to create a robust nursing workforce to meet the health and wellness needs of our local communities.

– Dr. Sara Lankshear, Associate Dean, Health, Wellness and Sciences, Georgian College
BScN nursing student in blue scrubs checking on a human patient simulator in the nursing lab.

The Honours Bachelor of Science – Nursing RPN to BScN Advanced Standing Pathway (Bridge) degree program – which takes three years to complete – will provide opportunities for careers across health-care sectors including hospitals, long-term care, primary care, and community and home care health services.

The program includes a clinical placement where students will get hands-on learning under the supervision of an experienced registered or licensed professional.

Practical nurses who are already registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario are also eligible to receive up to one year of advanced standing. Eligibility requirements include: 

  • Completion of a Practical Nursing diploma program from a recognized postsecondary institution with a graduating GPA of 75 per cent or higher.
  • Registered and in good standing with the College of Nurses of Ontario.
  • Be entitled to practise with no restrictions.

“The new bridge program is another transformative approach to supporting growth and professional development of nurses in our region,” said Leanne Weeks, Clinical and Chief Nursing Executive at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre in Barrie. “This will provide RPNs the opportunity to learn and grow closer to home and maintain their practice locally. This will enrich our current workforce and aids in bridging the gap between aspiration and the ability to achieve personal growth within our local region. We are grateful for the ongoing and meaningful relationship with Georgian College and congratulate them on this accomplishment.”

Students to use state-of-the-art high-fidelity space, technology

The lab equipment students will practise on will look and feel like the equipment they will use in a modern hospital or clinic setting, preparing them for their clinical placements and careers.

This includes newly renovated, state-of-the-art high-fidelity lab space and technology at Barrie and Owen Sound campuses. Students at the Orangeville Campus will be able to complete the majority of the program right at the Orangeville location but will need to travel to the Barrie or Owen Sound campus in order to participate in high-fidelity simulation learning.

A simulator patient lies in a hospital bed in a simulation room with images projected onto the walls.
HAL S5301, at Georgian’s Barrie Campus, is the world’s most advanced interdisciplinary patient simulator. It is pictured in a brand-new simulation environment that is the only one of its kind in Ontario higher education.

“We are excited that Georgian College’s new nursing pathway program will be offered in Orangeville. We are pleased to work in partnership to provide an opportunity for students to gain practicum experience at Headwaters Health Care Centre. Our hospital has a strong history of supporting education and training, and students will be able to access a wide range of programs and services,” said Annette Jones, Vice President, Patient Experience and Chief Nursing Executive, Headwaters Health Care Centre in Orangeville.

Community-based program has industry connections, small class sizes

Students in the new Georgian program will benefit from more industry connections, hands-on practise, and one-on-one training with small class sizes taught by expert faculty who care. Faculty work collaboratively with practice partners to provide diverse experiences for students to learn about the complexity of nursing in a modern health-care environment.

This community-based program reflects the specific health needs of local populations, including the elderly, Indigenous and Francophone Peoples, as well as those with mental health challenges.

“Nurses are a critical member of the health-care team at Brightshores Health System,” said Judy Shearer, Vice President, Patient Care & Quality, Nursing Executive at Brightshores Health System in Owen Sound. “We are excited to see Georgian College begin offering this new pathway for RPNs currently practising in our area to obtain their RN nursing degree and continue to practise locally.”

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