Next level nursing: Dwayne Pettyjohn prepares for Camosun’s innovative new health centre

November 13, 2018

When Dwayne Pettyjohn was working as an ambulance attendant in Toronto, he decided to pursue nursing because it combined helping others with an opportunity to learn transferable skills.

“I’ve always been interested in health care and how nursing opens up a variety of portable career paths,” he explains. “You can go around the world and work, in both urban and rural settings, within a hospital as well as out in the community. Even more so today, health care is increasingly focussed on community partnerships and lifelong learning and it’s very exciting that Camosun will be at the forefront of those trends with our new health centre.”

Pettyjohn grew up in Trail, attended UBC and then moved to Toronto for work and to attend Humber College. He then relocated to Victoria to enrol in the combined Camosun College and University of Victoria nursing degree program, graduating in 1996. After working for several years in the emergency room at Victoria General Hospital, he started teaching at Camosun in 2006. Since 2010, he’s served as the year two program leader and is now the Associate Chair of the Nursing Department. “I love teaching, and the positive interactions with students learning new things,” he says. “I really enjoy coming to work every day.”

Pettyjohn’s roots in our community and at Camosun give him a unique perspective on trends in nursing and changes in the health care field. “When I first started, we had a certain curriculum and now what is expected of today’s nurses has changed dramatically since I graduated,” he explains. “For the longest time as a society we’ve thought of needing health care solely in terms of going to a hospital setting, now many patients are living out in the community and today’s nurses need a different skill set to operate within a community setting.”

Societal changes have also fuelled a health care revolution. “We’re living in more of a multicultural society and that cultural aspect of health care has certainly come to the forefront,” he says. “As well, with reconciliation, keeping that Indigenous lens in play is important so we need to prepare students with that understanding as they enter the workforce, promoting lifelong learning and providing them with the skills to navigate and access knowledge as they advance their career and society changes.”

As Camosun’s new Alex & Jo Campbell Centre for Health and Wellness at Camosun takes shape at Interurban campus, Pettyjohn can anticipate its impact on his students. “Moving into the new building will help in multiple aspects,” he says. “It’s designed to create the kind of learning environment that is comfortable, safe and positive, and that creates an organic educational experience for students and faculty.”

He notes that today’s nurses are increasingly called upon to make independent decisions and the new building will prepare students for that shift. “Nurses are taking on more and more responsibilities to serve patients,” says Pettyjohn. “Nurses are the largest group of health care professionals in Canada and as government and our regulatory body increases what we call our scope of practice, nurses will be making more independent decisions. We are educating our nursing students so that they have that knowledge base, clinical judgment skills and access to the latest health information to make the best decisions for their patients.”

That new approach to nursing education is embedded into the overall design of the new health centre, which focuses on innovative technology and applied learning. “In the new building we will be able to expose our students more and more to a variety of clinical practice settings and diverse populations using cutting edge technology, as well giving them more clinical hours that are crucial to their professional development.”

The new health centre, slated to open in 2019, will bring together the majority of Camosun’s health programs in the same physical space. That, explains Pettyjohn will transform education by actively promoting students and faculty learning together. “Organic conversations are so important to learning about the latest thinking and approaches in health care,” he says. “When everybody’s in the same place, those interactions are going to happen and they will foster interdisciplinary learning.”

The new centre features an open concept design that maximises light and collaborative spaces, highlighting next level learning in its structural design. Pettyjohn notes that when it opens in 2019, he and his colleagues will be ready. “It’s going to set the stage for the transformation of health care education at Camosun and in our region,“ he says. “We’ll be ready to hit the ground running.”

Alex & Jo Campbell Centre for Health and Wellness

21st century education for outstanding health and wellness professionalsThe new, flexible, and adaptable Alex & Jo Campbell Centre for Health and Wellness at Camosun College, will feature modern classrooms designed to foster active learning, hands-on labs, simulation environments, collaboration spaces, and a Teaching Clinic, providing service to the public. It will bring together the majority of Camosun’s health and human services programming—which now occurs in multiple buildings at Lansdowne campus—and allow a more interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning.


Ivan Watson
Marketing & Communications Strategist
Camosun College
250-418-0700 |


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