Healthcare Shortages Equal Countless Career Prospects for College Graduates

Confederation College Practical Nursing program student. Photo Credit: Patrick Chondon
Confederation College Practical Nursing program student. Photo Credit: Patrick Chondon

Thunder Bay – In recent history, there has never been a time with a greater need for trained medical professionals. In the wake of Covid-19, focus has turned to the staffing shortages that exist for several reasons. Many front-line workers felt burned out by three years of pandemic. Some left the healthcare field for other professions, or education, while others began using large amounts of banked vacation or leave. A large cohort were hitting retirement age, just as the crisis hit. Many just moved from hospitals to lower stress positions in smaller clinics. Recent estimates have said there may be a shortfall of as many as 151,200 healthcare professionals across Canada, and it is a nation-wide issue; no region of the country has managed to avoid the staffing scarcity. 

One of the hardest hit areas in healthcare, has been the nursing shortage, and perhaps no more so than in the province of Ontario. The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) found that there are approximately 830.5 Registered Nurses per 100,000 citizens in Canada. In Ontario, that number is only 668. Ontario would need 24,000 more Registered Nurses just to meet that average. According to the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Statistics Canada found 32,295 vacant Nursing positions across the country. 

What is a BScN Degree? 

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) is the degree required to become a Registered Nurse in Canada. As of Fall 2023, Confederation College will offer its new standalone Honours BScN degree program. 

The four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program stresses health promotion, illness prevention and wellness, focusing on caring and compassion. Students will engage in nursing care simulation and scenarios that will prepare them for a rewarding career as a Registered Nurse. Small class sizes, state-of-the-art simulation labs and clinical placements that begin in year one provides opportunities to explore a variety of nursing roles. Students will have access to large general nursing core labs, simulated nursing-specific care scenarios and a simulated home environment. 

“The nursing programs at Confederation College were already well established. Our Practical Nursing program has been running for decades, and since 2002 we have had a collaborative degree program in partnership with Lakehead University,” said Shane Strickland, Dean, School of Health, Negahneewin, and Community Services. 

Indeed, the standalone BScN degree program was the next logical step for the college. When the new program was announced in 2022, Hon. Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities said, “As a proudly northern institution, Confederation College is in a unique position to serve the healthcare needs and demands for nursing graduates in Thunder Bay and surrounding communities.” 

BScN graduates are eligible to write the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) required for licensing. Beginning in 2025, students who have completed the 2-year Practical Nursing (PN) diploma program can bridge into the third year of the BScN program. 

Other Health Programs at Confederation College 

Aside from the BScN program, Confederation College also offers Practical Nursing, Primary Care Paramedic, Dental Hygiene, Dental Assisting, Medical Laboratory Assistant, and Medical Radiation Technologist programs. Practical Nursing, and Medical Laboratory Assistant programs are offered at some of the college’s regional campuses, as well as at the Thunder Bay campus. Numerous additional distance learning health related programs are also available. 

An exciting development for the Fall 2023 intake of students, is that the Primary Care Paramedic program will be increasing its seat capacity from 30, up to 40 students. The hope is that many of these paramedic students will do their placements in the region and stay in the region after graduation. 

Benefits of Attending Confederation College 

Confederation College is located geographically in the heart of the city of Thunder Bay. The college has a culturally diverse community of nearly 5000 full and part-time students. This includes close to 900 Indigenous and more than 1000 international students. Thunder Bay strikes a balance of being not too large or small of a city and is located in one of the most picturesque areas of the province. The cost of living for students in Thunder Bay is significantly lower than in larger centres. 

Find Out More 

Confederation College will host a School of Health Open House on Saturday Feb 11, from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm. The event takes place at the college’s Shuniah Building and is open to the public. Visitors will be able to meet with program coordinators and see the labs and facilities. Guided tours will run every half hour. To speak directly with an advisor about one of the college health programs, email or call (807) 475-6335. 

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