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  • Jim Martendale

The Martenette – ‘CBU’s Nursing Program Reaching New Heights’

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

Inverness, N.S.

For some years now CBU’s Baccalaureate Nursing Program has been rated among the Top 3 in the province, but new changes to the curriculum aim to propel this mainstay of professional studies even further.


Miina Bjornstad, an international student from Norway and a member of CBU’s Nursing Society Executive.

In consultation with the provincial government, CBU’s Nursing Program made the switch from the traditional 4-year program to an Accelerated, 3-year BScN. Included within the new 3-year program is an Advanced Standing Option, where students with a previous background in the sciences are able to enter in Term 3, effectively shortening the program length by one calendar year. While this new iteration of the program does indeed get students through to graduation faster, they are still responsible for eight terms of study and the associated fees – meaning that in the last two years of study they are effectively in the classroom or clinical study year-round.

In addition to these significant structural changes, the Nursing Department has also made the switch from a traditional curriculum to a concept-based learning approach, with a heavier emphasis on clinical practice. What this means, in layman’s terms, is that their focus has shifted from attempting to prepare students for the countless scenarios they may encounter; their priority now is to give students a solid foundation in universal nursing concepts such that they may readily adapt to new challenges and situations as they encounter them in practice.

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Condensing all this learning into a 3-year program has had some unforeseen benefits as well. We spoke with Miina Bjornstad (pictured above) – a Norwegian student and member of the Nursing Society Executive – about the changes to the program. “There are really two ways to learn about acute and chronic illness, obviously one is to enrol in a health sciences program, like here at CBU. The other way – and not that many people think about this – is to be diagnosed with an illness yourself. People suffering from chronic illness especially, we’re always told that if we don’t know something, let them teach us – they’re the experts. In that sense there’s been nothing better than this new three year-program. My best friend in class, Becky, used to be a marathon-runner, but after two years in the program and near-constant stress eating she’s been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and, honestly, there’s nobody in our study group who understands how insulin works better than Becky.”


Mac MacPherson, a second-year student we spoke with, could not agree with Miina more; “Before coming to CBU I had obviously heard of panic attacks and seen them on TV and movies and stuff, but seeing them happen right there in front of you, just before a final – I mean you just can’t teach that stuff with a textbook.” MacPherson went on to add that “the effects of Adderall I mean, you can read about it on Nursing Central [an app for Nursing Students], but our friend —— developed just about every negative side-effect you could think of, it was a real teachable moment.”

Other students we spoke with had similar praise to offer about the program, saying that conditions such as depression, substance use disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, GI distress, and hypertension were all much easier to understand once they were able to watch it play out in front of them – in this way their knowledge-base grew consistently as the program advanced.

“Listen,” said Bjornstad, “this will never be an easy program, but those of us who don’t have to drop out for medical reasons are going to graduate very prepared for the stressful, anxiety-inducing workplace environments that are part-and-parcel of RN practice – and we have CBU’s Accelerated Program to thank for that.”

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