December 2019

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2 WINNIPEG FREE PRESS - SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2019 Whether you are studying at our main campus in Brandon or at our Winnipeg site, become part of a close-knit community working together for the future. Get to know your professors in our small classes. Take part in meaningful research. Gain real-world experience. Visit us to find out how we can help you build your future at Brandon University. Futures are built in Brandon A row of 10 hospital beds — several of them occupied by inert, mostly plastic, patients — fills a room on the sixth floor of the Rice Building at 491 Portage Avenue. It's the psychiatric nursing skills lab at Brandon University's Winnipeg location, the place where students practise core, hands-on skills like taking blood pressure, giving injections and inserting catheters. Today, a group of psychiatric nursing students are learning how to give oxygen therapy to a patient. These students will go on after graduation to work with patients or clients experiencing depression, anxiety, addiction, schizophrenia, dementia or other mental health issues. But mental health issues may be accompanied by, or may worsen, physical illnesses. So naturally, they are taught to assess all aspects of their clients' health. In 1995, Brandon University became the first in Canada to offer a four-year psychiatric nursing degree. "We are a pioneering program and national leaders in many respects," says Dr. John Moraros, Dean of the Faculty of Health Studies at Brandon University, which is home both to the Department of Nursing and the Department of Psychiatric Nursing, as well as the relatively new Master of Psychiatric Nursing program. The program leading to a Bachelor of Nursing degree is based on the main campus in Brandon and accepts about 55 students a year. By comparison, the Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing program is uniquely divided between Brandon and Winnipeg. There are about 45 students per year admitted to the program's Winnipeg location and 35 to its Brandon location. Both the BN and BPN programs have labs, where students can practise the hands-on skills of nursing and both programs use high-fidelity, life-sized mannequins and real- life actors, who have been assigned specific conditions to give students experience interviewing and assessing patients. Both programs combine theory classes and lab-based skill development with a substantial amount of clinical education in a variety of health-care settings. While they have similarities in their core courses, particularly in the first years, the two degree programs differ more substantially in later years. Students in the BN program take theory and clinical courses that will prepare them to work in locations like acute, medical, surgical, pediatric or other hospital units, as well as in clinics, care homes and community health settings. The BPN curriculum, on the other hand, includes courses on subjects like counselling, addictions, abuse and therapeutic groups, so its graduates are clearly focused on issues of mental health, in both hospital and community settings. The BrandonU Bachelor of Nursing program is positioned to prepare students to work in health-care settings across the province and especially in rural Manitoba. The faculty has strong ties to the Prairie Mountain Health Region, Moraros notes, adding that "we try to give our students a number of rotations in a rural setting." Working in health care in a small community is different from working in a larger city, he notes, and many students enjoy the experience. The BN program culminates in a senior practicum course that allows students to bring together everything they've learned in a real-world setting, as well as a project-based course that lets them dig deeply into issues like nursing leadership, health policy, program development and implementation. The BPN program is based on a philosophy of acknowledging the interactions between mental wellness, the overall environment, individuals, families, communities and the psychiatric nursing profession. With a strong cohort of students and a low ratio of students to faculty, the program gives students the chance to work closely together to benefit their community. "We have very little attrition, so we graduate about 75 students per year and they all get jobs," notes Dr. Jane Karpa, associate professor, Department of Psychiatric Nursing. With an employment rate like that, it's no surprise that it's a high-demand program. Karpa notes that in Winnipeg alone there are 275 students taking pre-psychiatric nursing in hopes of getting one of those coveted seats in the BPN program. Some graduates from psychiatric nursing find work in acute care psychiatric units at hospitals. Others work in community mental health with the WRHA or other health authorities. Still others may work in community agencies or organizations devoted to helping marginalized and vulnerable people. "Our students are trained to work with all populations that are living with mental health issues," notes Karpa. Brandon University's leadership role in nursing education includes being the only university in Canada to offer a master's degree in psychiatric nursing. It's a part-time program, offered through distance education, with more than 60 students across Canada currently enrolled. The demand for psychiatric nurses in Canada is only going to increase, notes Moraros. A Mental Health Commission of Canada study recently indicated that 20 per cent of Canadians will experience some form of mental illness in their lives and that mental illness costs the Canadian economy $50 billion per year, including lost productivity. "Investing in effective programs would make a significant difference to the Canadian economy and to our overall health," he says. Among the psychiatric nursing students in the skills lab learning how to administer oxygen this one autumn, the importance of mental health to us all is obvious. "There's no health without mental health," says one student, to a round of agreement from her classmates. For more information, visit health-studies/programs/bscpn. ❚ BRANDON UNIVERSITY TAKING THE LEAD ON NURSING EDUCATION By Bob Armstrong for the Free Press Brandon University's leadership role in nursing education includes being the only university in Canada to offer a master's degree in psychiatric nursing. Dr. Jane Karpa, associate professor, Brandon University Department of Psychiatric Nursing, in the school's practical lab in downtown Winnipeg. Photo by Jason Halstead

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