Nursing celebrates three decades of education

by Christine McLaren



The arrival of 2007 marked the end of a special year for the University of Victoria’s School of Nursing, which celebrated its 30th birthday in 2006.

The school was established against all odds on March 23, 1976. It took countless letters to the editor by prominent nurses and sustained pressure from the Registered Nurses of BC to persuade the government to create the school. A budget of $165,000 was decried as “appalling” at a time when $50 million was being spent on the expansion of UBC’s medical school.

The first nursing course description was called “eerie, somewhat Pavlovian, clockwork orangy” by senate member David Henn in an article from The Ring dated Dec. 10, 1975. But determination prevailed and in 1978, 25 BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) students formed the first graduating class.

No strangers to adversity, nurses continue to hold a vital place in today’s changing health care environment.

“Despite all the ‘noise’ about a crisis facing the health care system, nurses are at the bedside and in the community every day delivering effective care,” says Dr. Mary Ellen Purkis, dean of human and social development. “The future of Canada’s increasingly integrated health services sector relies on professionals who work well together in inter-
professional teams. Our nursing school continues to show real leadership in this area.”

The school celebrated its anniversary in 2006 with the introduction of an Alumni Award of Excellence. Darlene McGougan, BSN ’98, is the first recipient. She’s currently the manager of nursing for Aboriginal health at the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

“I don’t do what I do alone and I couldn’t do it without the education,”said McGougan, who also shared the wisdom that “for Aboriginal people, you are the medicine if you bring a good heart”.

Jane Milliken, interim director of the school and master of ceremonies for the anniversary celebration, said in her address: “It’s no wonder that we can be proud of what we have accomplished in just three short decades, with so many dedicated people all contributing to our success. Our school continues to demonstrate a commitment to generating knowledge and advancing the nursing profession to improve health for individuals, families, communities, and society.”

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