Upgrading your skills can give you a leg up in any industry, and health care is no exception. Soon, registered nurses looking to boost their knowledge will have more options thanks to the introduction of two new post-graduate certificate programs at George Brown College.

The family practice nursing certificate and the pediatric cardiology nursing certificate, both of which the school hopes to launch in January, will be one-of-a-kind programs that allow RNs to hone their skills in specialized areas.

“(We) looked at what was available in specialized education for family practice nurses and there was really nothing in Ontario for them,” says Dianne Diniz, chair of the nursing program. “There are about 19 family practice units across Ontario, as well as a number of independent family practice units, so the capacity for filling the program was there.”

Diniz says the one-semester family practice program will combine theory and practice. Students will observe and work in a family practice/primary care environment with the interprofessional members of the team, ranging from the family practice nurse to the nutritionist and physician.

As with the family practice program, the two-semester pediatric cardiology program is both for nurses who are already employed and for nurses who are interested in working in that particular discipline.

“It could be for any RN currently working at Sick Kids that may want to advance their knowledge in cardiology,” says Diniz. “Or (it could be) for a new RN who wants to enhance their knowledge before they get a job in a high-risk pediatric environment.”

The program, which will include a work-study component, is being developed in collaboration with the Hospital for Sick Children and will likely be offered at the hospital, says Diniz.

Both the family practice and pediatric cardiology programs will be considered full time but include online and weekend delivery to accommodate nurses’ day jobs and those working in rural parts of the province.

They join three other post-graduate certificates for RNs that George Brown currently offers: Critical care, perinatal intensive care and operating room perioperative. The school also provides professional development opportunities for other types of health-care workers, including a unique personal support worker pathways program that bridges to the practical nursing program.

The aim when launching new programs is to address both a need and an interest, says Diniz.
“These specialized areas have now come to realize that they need their nursing staff well-trained in a post-graduate environment,” she says.

“(And) certainly what we are finding right now is that new grads are looking for specialized knowledge just to build their comfort level and their capacity.”

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