GPRC Focuses on a Healthy Future

An exciting polytechnic designation, enhanced academic offerings and a new state-of-the-art health research facility will deliver significant regional benefits.

Equipped for life - that’s GPRC’s vision for students, the region and our province. Alberta’s newest polytechnic wants everyone to have the necessary tools for success and they are excited about the promising outlook for post-secondary.

“We’re fortunate to be a part of a dynamic and impactful system,” says Dr. Vanessa Sheane, Vice-President, Academic and Research. “Not only do we get the opportunity to inspire and train tomorrow’s leaders with marketable skills, but we also get to feel good about our role in equipping communities with thoughtful and committed citizens who will make significant contributions.”

It’s important work and GPRC is laying the foundation for a number of meaningful career pathways at both their Grande Prairie and Fairview campuses.

“Our academic portfolio is steadily growing,” says Dr. Sheane. “We currently offer a wide variety of certificates and diplomas, pre-employment and apprenticeship trades, university transfer studies, as well as several opportunities for on-campus degree completion through university collaborations.”

As a polytechnic, GPRC will soon be able to offer even more at home degree granting. A proposal for a Bachelor of Computing Science degree is currently under review and other in-demand undergraduate programs are being explored. The institution also recently announced the addition of two new health focused areas of study.

“This past year has provided a very timely reminder about the importance of our health care system and the profound impact medical professionals have in our communities,” says Dr. Carly McLeod, Dean School of Health, Wellness and Career Studies. “The advantage of being able to train people locally is that there are more opportunities to nurture meaningful connections and for students to explore the distinctive aspects of a job through work-integrated-learning and practical training.”

In 1997 GPRC began offering a collaborative Bachelor of Nursing degree in partnership with the University of Alberta. The popular program enables students to complete all four years of study at the Grande Prairie campus and has produced nearly 1000 graduates since its inception. In addition, learners gain practical experience in nursing laboratories and clinical placements in surrounding health care facilities.

“With population growth and an aging health workforce, we know there is a need for skilled professionals in community, long-term and acute care settings,” says Dr. McLeod. “We are pleased to be able to contribute solutions that strengthen our region and the services available.”

There are many components that are integral to great care and GPRC has doubled-down with more in-demand programming at their Grande Prairie campus. The Health Care Aide certificate is an eight-month qualification with room for 32 students that officially kicks off in Fall 2021. In January 2022, another 32 students will be able to begin their two-year training for a Practical Nurse diploma.

“Collaborative planning with our clinical stakeholders has given us the opportunity to identify emerging workforce gaps and to respond with solutions that are underpinned by a standardized provincial curriculum,” adds Dr. Sheane. “In 2019, we applied for both programs simultaneously and we are delighted by the outcome.”

Expanded programming is just one part of the region’s hopeful prognosis. The establishment of the Evaskevich Centre for Health Research and Innovation was announced in late 2020 and promises to deliver a significant return on investment.

“We can’t thank Paul and Coreen Evaskevich enough for their generous donation,” says Dr. Sheane. “Not only will this state-of-the-art facility help advance research for rural, northern, and Indigenous communities, it will provide a shared space where revolutionary discoveries and health care improvements can germinate.”

Located in the new GPRC wing of the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital, this 103 square meter facility will boost local research capacity. Once fully operational, the Evaskevich Centre will bring health services and industry partners in northwestern Alberta together in a shared learning environment.

“Diversifying our local presence and academic portfolio provides great value to learners and our community as a whole,” said Dr. Sheane. “We are looking forward to working with all of our great partners as our polytechnic evolution continues to gather momentum.”

GPRC is a comprehensive community institution, publicly supported to provide opportunities in post-secondary education in northwestern Alberta. Established in 1966 in Grande Prairie, GPRC now includes campuses in Fairview and Grande Prairie. GPRC offers a wide variety of career certificates and diplomas, pre-employment and apprenticeship trades, university transfer studies, and several opportunities for on-campus degree completion through collaborative university partnerships. For more information, visit gprc.ab.ca.