The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.
Professionals often view Northern Manitoba as a stepping stone to the cities, but the majority of a new crop of nurses would be more than happy to stay in the region. Wearing bright white uniforms and smiles, the 26 graduates of a Flin Flon-based Licensed Practical Nurse course were handed their diplomas at the R.H. Channing Auditorium on Saturday. "One of the best things about this is that people who are trained in their own area are more like to stay there to work, and there's a great need for nurses in Northern Manitoba," said Flin Flon MLA Gerard Jennissen, one of the guest speakers at the graduation ceremony. "Instead of bringing Mohammed to the mountain, we brought the mountain to Mohammed." The graduates received their diplomas after a sometimes-grueling 16-month course offered through Brandon's Assinaboine Community College and based in the administration wing of Ruth Betts School. Nearly all of the graduates reside in Flin Flon, Creighton or Denare Beach, and their instructors say most hope to secure employment in Northern Manitoba. For many of the students, a career in nursing once seemed unattainable. Most had already started families, and a move to a larger centre for training was simply not in the cards. "My home is here," said Anna-Beth Clark of Denare Beach, one of the graduates. "I wouldn't want to move away to go to school." Aside from being a benefit for local residents, the LPN course also drew a few new faces to town. Four students made the move to enroll, coming from The Pas, Pukatawagan and Swan River. The students came from a variety of backgrounds. Some were recent high school graduates; others chose to leave successful careers. The youngest graduate is 21, while the oldest is 52. See 'Common' P.# Con't from P.# Linked by a common career goal, the students came together to succeed as a close-knit unit. "We really got to know each other well. We were like one big family," commented graduate Eunice Gustafson. Flin Flon Mayor Dennis Ballard, who spoke at the graduation, said he couldn't be happier that his community hosted the course. "I would love to see courses like this offered here every year," he said. "I think these graduates set things up for Flin Flon to get more programs like this by being so successful." Although the LPN course was offered through Assinaboine Community College, none of the instruction is done using distance education methods. All instructors were local residents, most of whom were still employed in the health care field. With a professional on hand to answer their questions, the students spent their days in class or taking one of their practicums at local health care facilities. To accommodate the course, a vacant room at Ruth Betts was converted into a well-equipped training area complete with hospital beds and medical dummies. The students also made use of a spacious classroom that doubles as a meeting room for the Flin Flon School Division. Assinaboine Community College regularly rotates nursing courses to different communities throughout the province. The college's announcement that this particular course would go to Flin Flon came after staunch lobbying efforts by Mayor Ballard, the NOR-MAN Regional Health Authority and the Flin Flon School Division. The new graduates will now prepare to write their licensing exams in Flin Flon on January 14, with the results expected back by the end of February. Graduating on Saturday were: Darren Bolme; Lyn Bradt; Linda Chute; Anna-Beth Clark; Sherryl Downey; Patricia Feuerstein; Eunice Gustafson; Cheryl Hanna; Julia Hiebert; Janice Jackson; Angeline Jerome; Michelle Korte; Meri-Jo Moran; Debbie Murphy; Debra Olfrey; Duane Pelly; Lisa Quick; Tracy Shoemaker (valedictorian); Roxane Stadnick; Sharalyn Strom; Sheri Tait; Trudy Taylor; Shauna Trueman; Terry Tulman; Carmen Weseen; and Brenda Zagrodney. The two full-time instructors of the course were Marlyn Fehr and Dawn Nowlin The part-time instructors were Tricia Sattleburger, Meryl Ramshaw, Marg McNeill and Karen Leifso.