FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is partnering with the University of New Brunswick (UNB) on two initiatives related to nursing programs. This investment will help add a mental health specialization to the university’s bachelor of nursing program and double the number of seats in its nurse practitioner program.

UNB is developing a curriculum of specialized theory and clinical courses that will allow 21 students to specialize in mental health each year, better preparing them to respond to mental health issues. The specialization will be added for September 2022.

The master of nursing-nurse practitioner program will expand from 10 to 20 seats in September 2023.

“UNB continues to show its commitment to the nursing professions, and we are pleased to partner with the university on these latest initiatives,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “Our government continues to work closely with our post-secondary institutions to ensure they deliver programming that supports the needs of our province. These initiatives will help further address the need for specialized health-care professionals.”

“Nurse practitioners are valued partners in New Brunswick’s health-care services, and the new seats announced today will help meet that demand,” said Health Minister Dorothy Shephard. “The new mental health specialization will give students the knowledge they need to provide appropriate nursing care to those seeking mental health and addiction services.”

Up to $1.48 million has been allocated to support these two performance-based agreements over two years.

This investment will expand on an existing program that provides mental health education to nursing students enrolled in the licensed practical nurse bridging program. UNB students wishing to specialize in mental health will be able to do so through:

  • the bachelor of nursing program
  • the advanced standing program, which is an accelerated program for students with at least 60 credit hours of university courses
  • the licensed practical nurse bridging program

“Our nursing students are highly skilled and well placed to acquire additional skills in critical areas such as mental health and addiction,” said UNB president and vice-chancellor Paul J. Mazerolle. “Through these agreements, we are able to expand our offerings and address significant needs in our province.”

Supporting nurses in mental health education is part of the Nursing Resource Strategy for New Brunswick, which contains four pillars: promotion of the registered nurse profession in New Brunswick; enhancement of nursing education in New Brunswick; recruitment of internationally educated nurses; and enhancement of registered nurses’ employment and work-life balance.

This investment also supports the new provincial health plan, Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action and the Inter-Departmental Addiction and Mental Health Action Plan: Priority Areas for 2021-2025. In addition, it will contribute to the government’s commitment on addressing issues related to mental health and addictions.