An official opening was held Thursday afternoon for the rural rotating practical nursing site at Providence University College.

Manitoba Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Minister Jon Reyes says the opening of this site, through Assiniboine Community College, will allow more students to become certified in this high-demand health care occupation. 

"Being able to attend training closer to home increases participation rates for rural students, which aligns with our government's Skills, Training and Knowledge Strategy, and also supports our commitment to add 400 new nursing seats to meet Manitoba's health sector needs," adds Reyes.

While the site welcomed nursing students in early September, the college marked the opening of the new rotating site on Thursday, with an event that welcomed nursing students and staff, Minister Jon Reyes, local MLA Dennis Smook, and partners from Providence University College and Southern Health.

"Whether it be the hospital in Vita, the hospital in St. Pierre, the hospital in Steinbach, they are all looking for nurses, it's a great program," says Smook. "And there's always spinoff effects. Having people graduate from this program ends up having families living in the area. It all has a great spinoff for the whole constituency."

"Assiniboine continues to be responsive to Manitoba's labour market and support economic growth by meeting community needs. Our rural rotating Practical Nursing sites answer the call on both of these priorities, and it is a pleasure to celebrate a new site in Virden and Otterburne this week," says Mark Frison, President at Assiniboine. "We thank our partners in community, healthcare and government for ensuring we can offer more training opportunities, increasing the number of qualified nurses in the workforce to address the healthcare labour shortage."

The college held an official opening of its Virden rural rotating location earlier this week and will be in Arborg and Morden for similar events in the new year. 

"Expansion of the rural rotating Practical Nursing diploma program in our region brings us one step closer to meeting the increasing demands to fill nursing positions. We are thrilled to partner with Assiniboine Community College and Providence University College to expand this program to Otterburne," says Jane Curtis, Chief Executive Officer for Southern Health. "This goes a long way in providing accessible post-secondary options in the eastern part of our province."

Suzanne Nicolas is Dean of the School of Nursing for Assiniboine. She says communities across Manitoba were asking for more nursing seats, prompting the decision to add three more rural rotating sites. Nicolas says there are now more opportunities within each region to rotate the sites where there is the greatest need.

"This will help to alleviate the nursing shortage, the severe, severe and dire nursing shortage that we are experiencing," says Nicolas.

Practical Nursing is the largest single program of study at Assiniboine, with 100 per cent of graduates surveyed reporting they had jobs. Since 1975, more than 4,200 individuals have graduated from nursing programs offered by the college.

In addition to rural rotating sites, the college has permanent Practical Nursing programs at its campuses in Brandon, Winnipeg, Dauphin and Portage la Prairie.