Program manager Sandra Cornell.
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Virginia Childforever enrolled in the Native Nurses Entry Program because she wanted to improve the healthcare for First Nations.
The 38-year-old graduated from the nine-month preparatory program in 2001 then went for a Bachelors of Science in Nursing in 2005. Once she was done school, she took a position at the Northern Nishnawbe Aski Education Council as well as a part-time outpost nurse. She said she wanted to improve the level of healthcare in First Nation communities
“It’s very difficult to get healthcare for First Nation communities,” Childforever said. “I chose NNEP because I was interested in science and the human body but also because there were hardly any native nurses that I knew of. Where I am from it is remote so the first line of health care are the nurses who work at the nursing station. Sometimes it is difficult because there’s no access to extra care.”
Most nurses who go to First Nation communities face a number of challenges including language barriers. Childforever said being an Aboriginal helps to tear down those barriers and allow First Nation communities to have a higher level of healthcare provided to them.
Childforever encouraged anyone who is interested in going into nursing to join the program but added they must be ready to work hard.
Childforever joined a number of other fellow students and former staff members of the program at the grand reopening of the NNEP facility at Lakehead University Wednesday. A fire three years ago in the Harold S. Braun Building forced the NNEP to find a temporary home off campus.
Program manager Sandra Cornell said she’s glad to be back at LU.
“Words can’t describe how we feel,” Cornell said.
“The space that we’re in now is absolutely stunning. Now that we are on campus, we have a lot more resources available for students. We have a computer lab with six computer stations, our own individual space with privacy to be able to speak to students and we have an elder that can come in.”
With 24 students enrolled this year, being on campus will mean the program can expand even more, she said.
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