Up to 50 fourth-year nursing students will not be able to graduate on time due to a new class size cap imposed by the faculty.
Clinical theory and the accompanying clinical practice placements for students are the particularly problematic courses.
The faculty believes that the students will benefit from smaller class sizes. Dean of Nursing, Dauna Crooks, explained that the larger the class size, the more difficulty students had learning the material.
Crooks went on to say that when there were larger numbers of students in fourth year courses, the number of fails on the registration exam increased. If students fail this exam, it means they cannot work.
“It’s imperative for us to have classes that are small enough that we can reach students individually,” said Crooks.
Crooks said that the number of students that leave one year and return the next keeps increasing from year to year which is one of the reasons why they imposed the limits.
“Every year [we’re] in more and more of a bind in terms of being able to place students in clinical,” she explained.
Associate Dean of Nursing, Marion McKay, explained that the situation couldn’t be solved by finding more spaces for these students.
“It’s very specific. Each course requires a specific kind of clinical space, and if our demand outstrips the capacity of the health care system to provide space in that particular area then there’s nothing either [myself or Crooks] can do about that,” said McKay.
The faculty has been working to minimize the impact on students. Crooks explained that Nursing offered 41 summer placements that would have prevented the issue but no one registered.
Nursing student Jose Huberdeau said that while he felt students were given enough notice about the limits being imposed, many nursing students have to work during the summer in order to pay their tuition and that taking courses during summer session is sometimes not an option for everyone.
“Personally, I believe the university should have its priority set as equal education for everyone, but this is easier said than done,” said Huberdeau.
“This is an unfortunate situation for nursing students, as well as the Faculty of Nursing.”
Lori Lamont, vice-president and chief nursing official for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) said that the limit could potentially have a significant impact on the nursing community.
“The WRHA is working very closely with the university [ . . . ] to accommodate as many students as we possibly can,” explained Lamont.
She went on to say that fewer graduates could make it harder to recruit locally, and fewer spaces for students in the faculty may give the impression that there are less jobs for potential nurses once they graduate.
“Then we’ll get into some of the difficulties we’ve been in in previous years, where people believed that there were no jobs so they didn’t enrol in the program,” said Lamont.
Lamont stressed the importance of having quality graduates, saying that it is hard to make up for a good education in the workplace and that students need to meet national standards to enter the practice setting.
“The Faculty of Nursing is working closely with the WRHA to find clinical placements for students, but both establishments have to accommodate other medical training programs in addition to nursing students,” said Lamont.
Lamont explained that if there were large numbers of students in a clinical setting, there was a risk of overwhelming the staff or the patients and the students would not have a good experience.
Crooks said that they may have a small number of students affected next year but in the future “this should not happen again.”