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RDP creates accelerated Practical Nurse Diploma route for health care professionals

Red Deer Polytechnic becomes the first to offer program
Red Deer Polytechnic has designed an accelerated Practical Nurse Diploma program for internationally educated nurses or internationally trained health care professionals and Canadian health care professionals. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Red Deer Polytechnic has become Alberta’s first post-secondary institution to offer an accelerated avenue for health care professionals to complete the Practical Nurse Diploma program.

It is designed for internationally educated nurses or internationally trained health care professionals and Canadian health care professionals to complete the program at an accelerated pace.

Applicants must have earned a domestic or international health care credential within the past 10 years. Through a variety of evaluation tools, applicants may receive prior learning credit toward courses in the first year of the two-year program, potentially reducing the duration of the program in half.

“This program demonstrates the commitment from RDP to align learner-centric programming with industrial and societal needs, helping to fulfill labour market demand within the health care sector,” said Lindsay Engel, vice-president of academic and student experience, in a statement.

The first cohort of the program will begin in fall 2024 term, with 16 available seats.


Red Deer Polytechnic receives $20-million gift from Donald family

Students can demonstrate prior learning and competencies in first-year Practical Nurse courses that include anatomy and pharmacology by completing individual assessments, such as case studies, exams and presentations.

Heather Dirks, School of Health and Wellness interim Dean, said the program helps reduce barriers for health care professionals.

“Through this program, students will be able to build upon their previous knowledge and skills by receiving expert instruction in modern facilities and enhanced practicum and learning experiences with industry partners,” Dirks said.

In addition to learning in high-fidelity simulation labs, students take a selection of courses that help to prepare them for the diverse needs of the health care sector, including Community Health Nursing, Maternity and Pediatric Nursing and Mental Health Nursing.


International student enrolment remains strong at Red Deer Polytechnic, despite federal changes

“This program is one example of how Red Deer Polytechnic supports internationally trained and educated students. By recognizing prior learning, RDP has created an efficient pathway for international students to accelerate their career and increase their earning potential as a nurse while contributing to the needs of Alberta’s health care sector,” said Werner Beylefeld, International Education Dean.

For more information about Red Deer Polytechnic’s Practical Nurse Diploma program, visit

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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