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Lack of housing blamed for below-average nursing program enrolment

Last year, Evan Dendewicz was attending classes at the University of Victoria when he decided that a career in nursing was a better fit for him.

“So I applied, and I luckily got in,” said Dendewicz.

Now he’s three weeks into a four-year undergraduate degree in the Camosun College and University of Victoria nursing program.

“This year we are down, so our enrolment at current is 142 students out of our 160, so a bit surprising for us certainly,” said Kirstin McLaughlin, chair of the nursing program.

It’s surprising and unusual, as traditionally the program comes with a very long waitlist, she explained.

“Typically we see 600 applications for 160 spots, and this year we had about 450 applications,” said McLaughlin.

Some of the 450 applicants did not meet the admissions criteria. Others, when push came to shove, decided to attend post-secondary school elsewhere.

The college says it’s not completely clear why those students decided to attend other schools, but one reason was sighted by many potential students.

“Housing was a huge issue,” said McLaughlin. “Students were accepted to the program but either couldn’t find housing or housing that they could afford.”

“Here in B.C. we know that we are short at least 5,000 nurses,” said Adriane Gear, president of the B.C. Nurses Union.

She says the system needs every burst that it can get right now. She calls it concerning that there are unfilled seats in the school’s nursing program.

“Affordability is a factor, but even if you could afford it, there aren’t places to rent,” said Gear.

Camosun College is hoping to build student housing on its Lansdowne campus. That project currently sits with the province, awaiting funding.

“I think it’s going to be a rewarding career,” said Tracy Stoessiger, a first-year nursing student.

Stoessiger spent 15 years working in HR. She has decided to switch it up by becoming a nurse.

Having lived in the capital region for seven years, she has secure housing and knows she is one of the lucky ones.

“I have heard from some of the older students that aren’t established in this community that it is difficult, and that they have had to reach out to other supports financially to make it happen,” said Stoessiger.

A lack of affordable and available housing in the capital region is once again being blamed for keeping people away, ones that we need trained in order to correct our ailing health-care system. Top Stories

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