In partnership with Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary, Alberta’s government is expanding health-care education and capacity in east-central Alberta through the pilot Rural Registered Nursing Degree Program.

“Expanding access to post-secondary education for rural and remote Albertans is a key priority under the Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs strategy, part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan. This partnership is wonderful news not only for those in east-central Alberta who can now study, live and work in the community they love, but also for the countless people who will benefit from the outstanding care these nurses will provide when they graduate.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

“Albertans need and deserve equitable access to health-care services no matter where they live, and expanding training opportunities like this will help build health-care capacity in east-central Alberta. Registered nurses are vital partners in health care, and the best way to recruit and retain nurses and other skilled people is to give them opportunities to learn and train where we need them. This is a great initiative that will help us deliver on our promise to strengthen the publicly funded health system for all Albertans.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“I’m glad to see the Rural Registered Nursing Degree Program moving forward. This program will ensure that those in rural settings who are interested in completing a university degree to become a registered nurse can do so while remaining in their community, in which we hope they will stay and serve. I understand that demand for this has been high and I have no doubt this will be of great benefit to our community.”

Garth Rowswell, MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright

The University of Calgary is providing program delivery for the four-year bachelor of nursing degree and Alberta Health Services is providing classroom space and hands-on training opportunities at Wainwright Health Centre.

“We know there are challenges in the recruitment and retention of skilled nurses in our rural communities. This new program reduces the barriers to learning and allows interested Wainwright-area residents to pursue a post-secondary nursing education at home. We hope, upon graduation, these new RNs will consider a health-care career in Wainwright.”

Janice Stewart, chief zone officer, Alberta Health Services Central Zone

“We are thrilled to partner with AHS and the Wainwright community on this initiative to develop and enhance our rural nursing workforce. Through this new route, students in rural communities will be able to complete our bachelor of nursing program without needing to relocate to Calgary. That reduces geographic barriers to nursing education for potential students who reside outside main centres. We started a pilot program in Wainwright, but we hope to be able to expand this option to other rural communities in coming years.”

Sandra Davidson, nursing dean, University of Calgary

A successful pilot program will serve as a model to support expansion to other rural communities throughout the province.

Ensuring all Albertans have access to high-quality post-secondary learning opportunities is a key goal under the Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs strategy, which is a key element under Alberta’s Recovery Plan.

The Alberta 2030: Building Skills for Jobs strategy is a transformational vision and direction for Alberta’s higher education system, which will develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce, strengthen innovation and commercialization of research and forge stronger relationships between employers and post-secondary institutions.

Quick facts

  • The program’s first year will feature a hybrid online learning and virtual course delivery model through in-person instructors at the University of Calgary connecting with Wainwright students via video.
  • In the second through fourth years, clinical and hands-on classes and labs will complement virtual and online learning.
  • A pilot cohort of eight students began the program on Sept. 7.
  • Applications are now open for new students to begin the 2022-23 school year.
  • Interested students can visit for more information.
  • Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.