Learning the Language of Health Care


Philip Harttrup, director of the English Language Centre at Lethbridge College, says he hopes the ESL for Nursing program will help foreign-born nurses bring their English skills to the same level as their nursing skills. The goal is for the students to eventually be licensed in Canada and start filling nursing needs in rural communities, emergency rooms, hospitals and clinics around the country.

Like any specifically skilled profession, nursing has its own set of technical terms and jargon which require mastering if the practitioner is to achieve proficiency. What might be difficult even for Canadian-born students to master becomes more so for those whose first language is not English, Harttrup explains.

The Lethbridge College English Language Centre created the online version of ESL Nursing Pathways program to assist those of other tongues to achieve their goals in the profession. The Lethbridge College portion of the program, which is accessible anywhere in the world, contains four elements: reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Two other elements – medical terminology and crosscultural communication – are offered by NorQuest College in Edmonton in collaboration with Lethbridge College. The college has also laid the groundwork to eventually facilitate the program through eCampusAlberta.

This year, the program has attracted students from the Lethbridge area, the Philippines, and Peru. The online classes are offered in addition to traditional nursing training offered at all levels to students who come to the southern Alberta campus.

For more information on the ESL for Nursing program at Lethbridge College, visit lethbridgecollege.ca/program/eslnursing or contact Harttrup at the English Language Centre (esl@lethbridgecollege.ab.ca or 1.800.572.0103 X7223). 

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