NURSING STUDENTS SHUT OUT BY STRIKE

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By Matthew Chung

As faculty and staff at colleges across the province take to the streets in a strike action, some students in Ryerson’s collaborative nursing program find themselves excluded from their practical placements and worried they’ll be spending the summer making up for lost time.

Students at George Brown and Centennial College who take part in the collaborative nursing program with Ryerson are affected.

Students at George Brown and Centennial College who take part in the collaborative nursing program with Ryerson are affected. Their teachers and staff are part of the 9,100 Ontario public service employees union members that went on strike as of midnight on Tuesday.

The union is demanding smaller classes and more full-time faculty. There are about 1,800 students in the collaborative nursing program, but the students enter into the program from the three different schools, also known as home sites. Third-year students with home sites at the colleges cannot attend their practical placements while the strike is on because their faculty advisers are part of the strike action.

First- and second-year classes are usually taught at the colleges by Ryerson CUPE local 3904 instructors. During the strike, those classes will still be taught but are being relocated to Ryerson. All students in their final year will continue to take their practical placements, supervised by non-union administrators from the colleges.

“We need to have a graduating class this year because Ontario needs nurses, desperately,” said Kileen Tucker Scott, Director of the School of Nursing and the collaborative program. “It is the only way that we are able to graduate a fourth-year class and meet the needs of the province of Ontario.”

Students whose home site is at Ryerson are not affected by the strike. Some of the province’s 13 collaborative nursing programs will not be able to graduate their students if the strike continues for a long period of time, Tucker Scott said. “We’ve tried really hard to minimize the impact,” Ryerson spokeswoman Janet Mowatt said.

Tucker Scott said she is really concerned for all the nursing students involved. “I don’t have any political angst one way or the other,” she said. “My concern is my students and I am concerned for their academic success and I am concerned for their emotional integrity.

“I believe that nursing faculty at large are concerned for the well-being of their students.”

She said the School of Nursing is making every effort to communicate with its students, including students at the colleges. Communication has been sent through e-mail and word-of-mouth in addition to updates on the School of Nursing web site, she said.

But third-year student Keschey Marcelle, whose home site is Centennial College, said she only heard about the potential strike from a friend over the weekend. “With this strike on, it means I cannot go to clinical (her placement) on Thursday, Friday. That means after the strike they could come back to me and tell me that during my summer break… I have to make up time. Which is bullshit. I plan to do summer school, how is that going to affect (that)?”

Marcelle was doing her placement at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, helping to run programs for patients there. But now she is concerned she won’t be able to get the 195 practical hours required to move on to fourth year, and says no one can tell her what she’ll have to do.

“All I know is I paid my money, I should be more informed and something should be in place in case something like this happens,” she said.

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