Nursing students are afraid their careers could be thrown off track because they’re no longer able to indicate their top choices for fourth-year placements.
“I want to get hired,” said Jodi-Ann Manhertz, a third-year nursing student. “When I apply for a job in my area, I have no experience so I’m at a disadvantage.”
In the past, students could indicate the types of placements they were interested in. But nursing placement paperwork no longer asks for students’ preferences.
Karen Spalding, director of the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, said not much has changed except “student perception.”
“We don’t have them talk about their career aspirations because they do that in class now, so that’s been removed from the forms,” Spalding said.
With few spots available, she said the department doesn’t want to give students false hope. Highly coveted spots include pediatrics, said Spalding.
“What the hospitals look for is students’ marks, their GPA. It’s nice if you have similar experience but it’s not just about skills,” Spalding said.
But fourth-year placements can lead to jobs after graduation, according to McMaster University school of nursing’s program administrator, Anne Cholewka.
Third-year nursing student Vanessa Toupin is concerned about missing out on hands on experience.
“I think it’s really important to get that down pat during our education so we’re not treating our patients as guinea pigs when we enter the workforce,” said Toupin, who created a Facebook group encouraging students to sign a petition against the lack of preferences.
Toupin said she’s worried about missing out on learning tasks like putting in catheters, changing dressings and dispensing medication.
Toupin, who wants to go into pediatrics, said she thinks academic knowledge doesn’t necessarily help with practical tasks.
“We spend 35 hours a week at this placement, it would be nice to have some say,” said Diana Tasikas, a third year nursing student.
At McMaster, Cholewka said placements are chosen via a lottery system. “This way they can see what a difficult process it is,” said Cholewka.
“I think the central placement office has a very difficult job,” said Tasikas.
“But I also think there are other avenues than saying no one can have their preference.”