Throughout their studies, UNBC nursing students have the unique opportunity to experience many different rural and urban health care settings. For Class of 2022 graduate Leanne Greeff, one of those experiences led her to a job in Kitimat.
The diverse clinical experience opportunities available to University of Northern British Columbia Nursing students gave Leanne Greeff the opportunity to discover her passion.
As a student, Greeff spent time learning at the Kitimat General Hospital and Health Centre. Now that she’s celebrated her graduation with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, she is ready to begin her career working in acute care at the same facility.
“I knew I wanted to stay in the north for work, and the Terrace program offered great experiences in many facilities across Northern Health,” Greeff says. “It’s a bonus to being in a northern program, and a smaller program like the one in Terrace, because you get sent to lots of places across Northern Health.
"It gives you a glimpse into what the job will be like in places like Prince Rupert, Prince George or Fort St. John. I’m grateful to have had so many of these different experiences because it leads you to get a job at a place where you enjoyed your clinical placement.”
Greeff was one of 12 nursing students to complete their degree at the Northwest campus this year. At Monday’s graduation celebration, UNBC also recognized graduates from the Master of Education Program, the Master of Social Work program, the Bachelor of Science program and recipients of the Certificate in First Nations Language – Gitxsan.
Held at the Skeena Valley Golf and Country Club, students crossed the stage in front of family and friends at UNBC’s first in-person graduation celebration in Terrace since 2019.
UNBC President Dr. Geoff Payne told the class their graduation marks a milestone. This year UNBC’s alumni will number 16,000, matching the 16,000 signatories to a petition in the 1980s calling for the creation of a university in the north.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduate Suzanne Cavanaugh addressed her classmates at the ceremony, reminding them of the challenges they faced studying during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also looked forward, speaking about how the Class of 2022 is ready to enter the next phase of their careers.
After the ceremony, Greeff reflected on what it was like to study in the pandemic. She said it certainly demonstrated the relevance of the classes in epidemiology and encouraged them to think creatively, like using coat hangers to practice hanging IVs. It also gave her classmates a unique chance to bond over the shared experience of learning remotely for a portion of their studies.
“Having a close group of students definitely made schooling through a pandemic much easier. I felt we were all in it together and figuring it out day by day,” she says.
Like Greeff, many of the graduates are from northwestern B.C., and many of them plan to stay after graduation, using the knowledge they gained at UNBC to serve their community. Having a university campus close to home made that possible.
“Having a nursing program in Terrace enabled me to stay at home while going to school,” Greeff said. “I believe this made me more successful in the program because I always had a strong support system around me and I was able to study in a familiar environment.”
The Northern Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program in Terrace is offered in collaboration with Coast Mountain College. Students spend their first two years at Coast Mountain and then move to UNBC for their final two years of study.
“The Terrace nursing program has a strong rural-based practice, which I think makes nursing much more exciting; it really challenges your critical thinking,” Greeff says. “I am excited to be working in familiar environments where I feel supported, and thrilled work alongside many of my classmates. It is amazing to see where all of us started on day one of nursing school, and seeing each other work in the real world of nursing.”