Nursing students squeezed out of program

College sites increased competition while Terrace students who failed classes lobby administration to find a way to keep them in the program

Nursing students at Northwest Community College (NWCC) who failed courses were surprised to hear they will not be allowed to continue even after making up the courses, as high demand has forced the college to be stricter in enforcing its sequencing rules.

The Northern Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program is offered in conjunction with the University of Northern British Columbia and College of New Caledonia and requires students here to complete two years at NWCC before matriculating into their final two years at UNBC.

This year saw eight second year students at NWCC fail one or more classes and redo them in order to catch up, but were told by the college part way through the spring semester that unlike other years there would be no room for them to continue.

NWCC nursing student Christina Rogers has spoken out in an attempt to encourage those who administer the program to support local students and accommodate those who retook courses to catch up.

There is room for 24 third year nursing students each year, so if some students fall behind then they risk not being allowed into the program due to lack of space as those in the year behind move forward.

Failing a course means they “fall out of sequence” and need to make up for the failed class before advancing to higher level courses.

According to both the college and the students, typically room opens up in the sequence because of “attrition,” however attrition numbers are low this year and there is more demand overall to enter nursing programs all over the province.

“In the past you would get a bit of attrition, so five or six might not continue in their cohort, either because they didn’t pass a course or they decided nursing was not for them, you have some students who drop out part of the way through which allows someone else in,” said NWCC communications director Sarah Zimmerman. “The program is also becoming much more competitive.”

Rogers said that she and several of the other students were all retaking their failed courses with the understanding that they would get a second chance.

Rogers said that when a formal notice was sent in April telling her that there was no space she felt deflated because she had just finished successfully retaking the course she needed to make up.

“The college did not inform us of this information until one week before our final exams this year in April 2014,” said Rogers. “Too late for us to come up with back-up plans to apply to other schools.”

Rogers highlighted the fact that the region could lose much-needed nurses as a result.

NWCC said the students are made aware of the rules regarding sequencing.

“Students were advised of their marks as they became available though formal notice was sent in April,” said Zimmerman.

“NWCC is continuing to pursue some complex options that could help find some available seats in the system,” she added.

Part of that complexity lies in coordinating clinical placements, she said.