Athabasca University president on the role of open learning in health care
Dr. Alex Clark joined Real Talk with Ryan Jespersen to talk about nursing education and health care
Open, online learning has an important role to play in teaching the next generation of health-care workers but also to help working nurses upgrade their skills—without having to leave their home communities, said Dr. Alex Clark, Athabasca University (AU) president.
Clark spoke about AU’s role in serving the health needs of Albertans and Canadians while appearing on the popular podcast, Real Talk with Ryan Jespersen. Health systems here and around the world were already struggling to adapt to an aging population when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he said.
“Generally speaking, we’re trying to catch up with all the wait lists, all the elective surgeries, all the other diseases and ailments … all over the world the fragility of the health-care systems has been exposed.”
The role of open, online learning in health care
AU has an important role to play in addressing the shortage of health-care professionals needed to adapt to the aging population, Clark added. AU teaches more undergraduate nursing students and nurse practitioners than any other university in Canada. In fact, more than a third of the country’s nurse practitioners are AU grads.
“We have students that come to Athabasca University online, studying where they are from all over Canada as well as in Alberta,” Clark said.
Open learning also allows working nurses to move through the system and upgrade training such as, for example, a licensed practical nurse becoming a registered nurse.
“Nurses can study where they are, they can work where they are, wherever they are.”