Northern Baccalaureate Nursing Program inspires career change

For Lexine Giroux, the ability to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in her home community of Fort St. John was pivotal in her decision to transition into a new career.

September 25, 2023
Student wearing academic regalia - black cap and gown with peach and green band - leans against rock column with buildings in background.
Registered Nurse Lexine Giroux was among the first class of graduates from UNBC's Northern Baccalaureate Nursing Program.

It was a well-timed radio ad that ignited a spark in Lexine Giroux to pursue nursing through UNBC’s Northern Baccalaureate Nursing Program (NBNP) at the Peace River-Liard campus in her home community of Fort St. John.

The then-probation officer had reached a critical juncture in her life – she was contemplating a career change, but felt any viable transition would necessitate leaving the community. “However, being a single mother presented challenges with childcare and travel,” says Giroux. “The NBNP program allows individuals living in remote and rural areas to obtain an education and pursue employment in the health-care system in their home communities. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a registered nurse, while remaining local.”

Having her parents nearby to help with her son, Giroux began classes in the School of Nursing’s new two-year program. Developed through regional collaboration, the NBNP program was a direct response to calls to address nursing shortages and was designed to introduce students to the unique aspects of delivering healthcare in rural and small urban communities.

“Throughout each semester, the combination of theory, laboratory practice and practicum placements created a learning environment that accommodated all learning styles,” Giroux says. “And the encouragement and support of faculty, colleagues and healthcare professionals at each practicum placement bolstered my confidence as a student nurse.”

While pursuing her degree, Giroux was a recipient of both the Petronas Nursing Award and the Coastal GasLink Nursing Bursary. She credits the financial support with lessening the burden of choosing a career in nursing and allowing her to focus on her the course learnings.

“I had many memorable experiences during my time at UNBC, particularly during my practicum placements,” says the recent graduate. “Every day was different, allowing me to put my nursing skills and techniques to the test while also challenging the critical thinking skills I learned throughout the program.”

Cheered on by a crowd of family and community supporters, Giroux was among the first cohort of graduates from the Northern Baccalaureate Nursing Program to cross the stage at last June’s graduation ceremony in Fort St. John.

Since then, life has been an exciting whirlwind of additional training for the newly Registered Nurse. “I was thrilled to be accepted into BC Cancer’s Systemic Therapy Education Program where I learned about oncology in cancer care and intravenous therapy,” says Giroux. “I earned my Chemotherapy Certification, then did a practicum at BC Cancer’s Centre for the North in Prince George and am now working as a Cancer Care-Oncology nurse here at home in the Oncology Department at Fort St. John Hospital.”

“To be part of a team improving access to healthcare by providing cancer care in Fort St. John is extremely gratifying,” says the UNBC alum.

And while she is enjoying settling into her new career, the initial spark that drew Giroux to the NBNP may have ignited a lifelong love of learning that will see her return to UNBC’s School of Nursing. “I do think I’d like to further expand my knowledge by pursuing the Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner program at UNBC at some point in the future.”