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Durham College to provide e-Learning for nurses

OSHAWA, Ont. – Ontario has awarded a $1-million contract to Durham College to design an innovative critical care nursing e-Learning solution for the province.

The multi-faceted educational initiative is part of the provincial government’s Critical Care Strategy and is intended to improve the quality of nursing care in Ontario’s hospitals. Durham College will use an innovative training model to offer a new Critical Care Nursing e-Learning Graduate Certificate program to current and future critical care nurses across the province.

“Durham College has been providing high-quality education to nurses for over 30 years,” said Leah Myers, president of Durham College. “We are also a leader in innovative curriculum delivery and the use of technology in teaching. I am delighted that the Ontario government has recognized our commitment to excellence and innovation by awarding the college the provincial mandate for this best-in-class training initiative to meet this important healthcare priority.”

Unveiled in May and funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the program will see students access five theoretical courses via the Internet, enabling them to learn at their own pace – regardless of their geographical location.

Following completion of the theory courses, students will participate in hands-on simulation training at Durham College’s state-of-the-art, 5,700-square-foot simulation lab, or at a simulation lab housed at one of the many colleges and universities across the province that have partnered with the college to offer the simulation portion of the program. Students will then complete their learning by gaining on-the-job experience in a critical-care setting of their choice under the direct supervision of an experienced critical care nurse preceptor.

“We are proud to partner with Durham College on this innovative e-learning program for critical care nurses,” said Health Minister George Smitherman. “Nurses who were previously unable to attend traditional college programs due to geography, work or family responsibilities will now have improved access to the highly specialized training essential to caring for patients who are seriously injured or critically ill.”

In addition to the funding being given to Durham College, the government has allocated $1.5 million for the establishment of three simulation training centres to support the new program, as part of a $7-million government investment to increase critical care training opportunities for nurses.

“Durham College is delighted to be chosen by the government to develop the Critical Care Nursing e-Learning Graduate Certificate program from a very competitive field of colleges and universities,” said Judy Robinson, dean of the School of Health & Community Services. “This will enable Ontario’s nurses to overcome many of the barriers that affect critical care training. We are delighted to have an opportunity to educate the next generation of critical care nurses and graduate an increased number of healthcare practitioners with the highly specialized education and standards necessary to support today’s intensive care units.”

The program is designed to improve access to quality, integrated critical care services by providing provincially recognized critical care nursing standards and core competencies, as recommended by Ontario’s Critical Care Nurse Training Standards Task Group in 2005.

“The positive impact of this announcement on the recruitment and education of critical care nurses cannot be overemphasized,” said Jocelyn Bennett, chair of the nursing subcommittee of the Critical Care Expert Advisory Panel of the Critical Care Secretariat and senior director of Acute and Chronic Medicine Nursing, Mount Sinai Hospital. “The Province is leading nationally in its resolution to both the critical care nursing shortage and the quality of critical care here in Ontario. This strategy is about leadership and innovation and a real example of the positive partnerships that can exist between the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Local Health Integration Networks, front line care providers and educational institutions.”

About the Critical Care Nursing e-Learning Graduate Certificate program

The new Critical Care Nursing e-Learning Graduate Certificate program utilizes an online learning model, including web- and computer-based learning (i.e., the delivery of content via the Internet and CD-ROM) and virtual classrooms to give new and current critical care nurses access to high-quality education and practical experience in simulated and real-world situations. This unique educational model also has great potential for other health education areas, including pediatric/neonatal critical care and advanced care paramedicine.

Although statistics from the College of Nurses of Ontario indicate that approximately 7,709 of Ontario’s 89,652 registered nurses worked in critical care in 2006, hospital shift scheduling and a lack of accessibility to critical care programs have created a clear barrier in terms of finding the time and resources to pursue additional education for many nurses.

A vital component of the task group’s strategy to improve the quality of care and system performance in adult critical care services in Ontario, the Critical Care Nursing e-Learning Graduate Certificate program being offered through Durham College can be completed on a full-time basis in eight months or less or in 20 months if completed on a part-time basis of one course per semester.

Courses being offered include foundations of critical care such as fluid and electrolytes and hematology; advanced health assessment including clinical decision making; cardiopulmonary nursing such as arrhythmia interpretation and mechanical ventilation; gastrointestinal/neurological nursing including traumatic injuries and trends in research; and endocrine and renal nursing such as hypo and hyper disorders and pharmacology.

A Summer Institute for Excellence will kick off this summer, featuring a train-the-trainer program that will use Durham College’s high-tech simulation lab to train professors from colleges and universities across the province on how to utilize their own simulation labs to teach the simulation portion of the program, allowing students to conduct the clinical aspect of their studies at a location of their choosing.

Durham College’s fully operational high-tech and high-touch simulation lab features human-like simulators that realistically portray many ailments and serious health problems – giving students a virtual experience as they bridge the gap between normal and abnormal, and theory and practice.

The lab also uses program-specific software to simulate case scenarios reflective of a clinical setting, attracting educators from Canada and countries around the world wishing to learn more about the simulation techniques being used and integrated into the new Critical Care Nursing e-Learning Graduate Certificate program.

The Critical Care Nursing e-Learning Graduate Certificate program will accept the first cohort of students this fall. For more details, visit For more information on Ontario’s Critical Care Strategy, visit

About Durham College

Durham College is the premier college in Canada for career-focused students who will succeed in a challenging, supporting and inclusive learning environment. Offering approximately 80 different full-time market-driven programs and hundreds of continuing education and part-time programs, the college has provided students with access to exceptional teachers with real-world experience for close to 40 years. With a graduate employment rate of over 90 percent and employer satisfaction rate of close to 95 percent, Durham College gives students everything they need to obtain great careers and make a difference in the world. The college has close to 6,000 full-time students, thousands of part-time students and over 1,575 apprentices. For more information, visit or call 905.721.2000.