Nov. 23, 2022

UCalgary Nursing, Portage College and AHS partner for collaborative degree program

Another pilot program, this time for licensed practical nurses, set to launch in January 2023
Portage College, Cold Lake Campus
Portage College, Cold Lake Campus

UCalgary Nursing and Alberta Health Services (AHS) are once again teaming up to bring baccalaureate nursing education to rural and remote locations. Following the successful pilot in Wainwright [September 2021] with high school and transfer students, Portage College’s Cold Lake Campus welcomes the first class of licensed practical nursing (LPN) students in January 2023, who will start courses in the UCalgary Bachelor of Nursing Rural Community Route Program.

Through this unique collaborative, a group of nine LPNs will take the 28-month program, graduating in December 2024 as baccalaureate-prepared nurses, ready to take their registered nursing exam.  

Portage College Practical Nurse Program graduates, now working LPNs in the Portage College service region, will be taught by UCalgary Nursing faculty through a blend of distance education technology, instructor-led face-to-face labs and clinical experiences. Students will have access to Portage College amenities, network access, classrooms and nursing labs at the Cold Lake campus. The partners will work closely together to monitor and support program success.   

“In rural Northern Alberta, we are all aware of the significant nursing shortage that is projected to continue and to increase,” says Shona Hommy, Portage College’s associate dean for health.

It is through flexible, progressive and collaborative partnerships such as this that some relief to the pressures of the shortage can be found.  

“We are so pleased there has been a significant level of interest in the program and if the pilot program is as successful as the partners believe it will be, future program offerings will be supported.”   

Dr. Zahra Shajani, RN, EdD, UCalgary Nursing associate dean, undergraduate practice education, agrees with Hommy.

“Working with our practice and education partners to identify current nursing workforce capacity needs allows us an opportunity to address the chronic shortage of registered nurses in rural and remote areas,” she says.

“And working together in a collaborative way allows us to provide sustainable models for access to quality undergraduate nursing education.” 

For more information on the Portage College initiative, visit the website