1st Nursing Correspondence School

Saskatchewan is renowned for its ingenuity with respect to health care. The University of Saskatchewan upheld this reputation when it established, in 1976, the first correspondence course in nursing at any Canadian university. The course was a short course in preventive health care and was offered through the University Department of Correspondence Courses.

Preventive health was a growing field at this time and many nurses who had already taken their education did not have experience in either preventive or community health. "In the College's old five-year degree program, which was phased out in 1971, community nursing was an optional subject and some of the students, as well as some from other universities, graduated without experience in this growing field. As a result...they are at a disadvantage if they wish to seek community nursing positions in health regions or elsewhere" (The Sheaf).

In the 1970s, newer research was indicating that preventive medicine was more effective than the curative form of medicine which had been used as a primary method of treating illness. Preventive medicine focuses on keeping an individual healthy through health promotion and disease prevention while curative medicine focuses on treating individuals who are already ill. In 1975, a nursing program with emphasis on preventive care was very progressive.

The objective of the correspondence course [was] to help the nurses understand their role in a changing health delivery system that is placing increasing emphasis on preventive health. Health requirements [were to] be analyzed in terms of such factors as basic human needs, the environment and quality of life, disease and disaster...Among the topics to be taken up [were] prevention versus cure, the use of research, program planning and interdisciplinary approaches as well as developments underway in the Canadian health delivery system, including changed in required services and educational methods. In addition, attention [was] given to relations with the media and co-operation between volunteers and professionals (The Sheaf).

The short course was followed up with a full course at Intersession or during the summer semester on community health nursing. The full course was taken at either the Regina or Saskatoon campus.