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New program answers needs for practicing nurses, health authorities
Okanagan College Media Release

A new online program focused on gastroenterological care, developed by Okanagan College with support and input from the health care community, is unique and addresses a national need among practicing nurses.

The 302-hour online Gastroenterology Nursing Certificate program is a groundbreaking program because, until now, practicing nurses who wanted to prepare to take the Certificate in Gastroenterology Nursing exam had to engage in self-study.

The Okanagan College program provides online curriculum (the theory portion is 232 hours) bolstered by a practicum.

“We need to recognize the role that Interior Health played in development of this program,” explains Dr. Dennis Silvestrone, Okanagan College’s Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Development. “Administrators and nursing staff identified the need for this program and the national lack thereof. They have since been intimately involved in developing and reviewing curriculum and we have enjoyed the support of the Canadian Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates.”

Denise Dunton, Interior Health’s Surgical Services Clinical Leader in Acute Care Services, explains that the need for such a program became obvious after discussions with gastroenterological nurses and administrators. She checked in with other health authorities, including Fraser Health Authority and the Northern Health Authority, and they were supportive of a program being developed. Dunton approached Verna Simpson, an Okanagan College program administrator and the work began in earnest.

Simpson and Dunton also garnered support of the Canadian Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates for the initiative.

There is increased demand for the specialty training. Dunton notes that since the B.C. Cancer Agency launched a colon screening program in 2013, the number of colonoscopy procedures at Interior Health have increased substantially.

The Okanagan College program launches its first intake in October. The program is focused on providing practicing nurses with the knowledge and practical skills for entry into endoscopy-room nursing. It includes theory, demonstrations, and practical skill training.

To review admission requirements or for more information visit