Thompson Rivers University

First class of MN-NP candidates supported with donor funds

April 24, 2024

Along with dedicated faculty and support staff, ambitious students and generous donors have made the first year of TRU’s Master of Nursing-Nurse Practitioner (MN-NP) program a success.

The first cohort of the program began in May 2023 with 17 students — six of whom are now embarking on their first practicums. Three have been assisted by funding from ardent TRU donors and honorary degree recipients Roland and Anne Neave.

The Neaves have created endowments that support multiple scholarships and bursaries and, in 2014, they donated 160 acres of land near Clearwater/Wells Gray Provincial Park to TRU for educational purposes. When they learned TRU was slated to start a nurse practitioner program, they were once again eager to support.

“Knowing what a shortage of doctors and NPs there are in BC and recognizing how nurse-practitioners can serve rural communities where there is no hospital, the program appealed to us,” says Roland Neave.

Roland and Anne Neave along with MN-NP students Shavonne Rock and Philip Teichroeb, who each received an award from the Drs. Anne and Roland Neave Nurse Practitioner Fund.

Roland and Anne Neave (far left and far right, respectively), pose with MN-NP students Shavonne Rock and Philip Teichroeb, who each received an award from the Drs. Anne and Roland Neave Nurse Practitioner Fund.

Shavonne Rock and Philip Teichroeb each received an award from the Drs. Anne and Roland Neave Nurse Practitioner Fund. NP student Jillian Gourlay received the Charles and Jean Whittaker Memorial Nurse Practitioner Bursary, also funded by the Neaves.

“When I learned that I had received funding from the Neaves, I was blown away by their generosity and deeply grateful for the help they provided,” says Teichroeb. “Balancing living expenses, university expenses and significantly decreased work hours has been a considerable financial stressor. This scholarship has helped reduce that stress, enabling me to allocate more time and focus to my studies.”

Prior to starting the MN-NP program, Teichroeb worked as a registered nurse at Royal Inland Hospital (RIH). He took every opportunity available to upgrade his skills, moving from intensive care to post-anesthetic recovery and then training as a peripherally inserted central catheter nurse. When the MN-NP program was announced at TRU, he was quick to apply.

“The first year has been challenging, as returning to studies after six years can be difficult,” he says. “However, after the first semester, I quickly settled into a routine and have found myself enjoying the opportunity to learn new things. I’m looking forward to starting the second year of the NP program, as this will introduce more advanced medical knowledge in its courses.”

A history of helping

Rock received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2017 from TRU and has been working as a registered nurse since then, but her journey to health care started as a child helping take care of her mom, who struggles with serious health problems, including Type I diabetes. Recognizing sugar lows and knowing when to call an ambulance were the norm for Rock at a young age. As she matured, her desire to help others remained.

“Being around that your whole life and having to be aware of what those symptoms are so that you can intervene and help somebody — it’s been a part of my life for a long time,” she says, adding that her mom and aunt are both RNs as well.

Before entering the MN-NP program, Rock worked in several departments at RIH. When she returned to work following maternity leave, she met a nurse practitioner, and it opened her eyes to new possibilities. In addition to full-time studies, she maintains casual employment at RIH, works part-time as a research assistant and is involved in starting a mentorship program for new students in the program — all while raising a busy two-year-old. She credits the support from the Neaves as helping her to make it all work without having to pile up a mass of student loan debt.

In addition to pursuing a patient-centred career as an NP and possibly a doctorate, Rock is also interested in completing academic research, specifically on ways to improve the system by streamlining health care. She has big plans and says one day she hopes to be able to help other students follow their dreams just like the Neaves did for her.

“In the future, it would be nice to be able to do what the Neaves do and fund scholarships,” she says. “For now, I’m trying to give back by giving time and advice to help others.”

MN-NP program entering second year

May 2024 marks the second intake of future NPs. In 2025, the first graduates of TRU’s program will enter the workforce.

“There is a great need for health-care providers in our region and province,” says Tracy Christianson, graduate programs interim associate dean. “These graduates will make a significant impact and contribution to meeting the needs of the communities where they will practice.”

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