Conestoga RPN students seek certification to join the fight

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The program chair of the Registered Practical Nursing program at Conestoga College addressed our program section in an announcement on April 6, 2020 after cancelling our clinical placements on March 15, 2020 and informed us that we would not be graduating on time and that our transcripts will read incomplete for our final semester of the RPN program. From March 15-23, 2020, the program chair addressed our cohort only once informing us that the colleges focus was semesters 1 through 3 and transferring their learning to online delivery. There were no announcements or addresses made to semester four students from March 23-April 6, 2020. 

As a future nurse, I believe fellow students facing this pandemic alongside me want to be out there helping as nurses given the shortage Covid-19 has caused specifically in our region of Waterloo. I believe students have 200, if not close to 200, of the required 400 hours we need to meet graduating requirements. It has been brought to our attention that the McMaster students who attend Conestoga College are being granted the remaining hours of their required 360 so that they can get out and be helping hands. This is what we want; to get out there and help. We have been long awaiting our graduation and are now stuck awaiting further direction from the college.

The governing body for all nurses in Ontario is the  College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO). When contacted, I was informed that the CNO has encouraged colleges to get their fourth semester RPN students into alternative delivery education and has offered colleges tools to help the RPN students meet the required hours to pass their final clinical placement; yet our chair at Conestoga College would rather postpone our graduation and grant the entire section “incomplete” grades. Not only will this significantly impact our ability to practice as nurses, now it impacts the use of our knowledge, skill and judgment we have spent two years working towards. 

By not allowing us to graduate on time, students are required to wait until September or November of this year - if we’re lucky - to be eligible to write our CPNRE exam only if we are able to get back into clinical settings before this time and complete the remainder of hours required. This will significantly impact students. If the college would work with the CNO and allow us to complete our clinical hours through online learning or other forms of delivery as all other RPN semesters are doing, we would be able to get out into the workforce and help.

I am asking on behalf of myself and fellow nursing students that you sign this petition and help us change Conestoga College’s mind so that they either grant us some of the hours we have missed and get us back into our placements, or give us our remaining hours worth of educational material so we can complete our final semester and be eligible to write our final exam. It is well understood that in order to practice we must show competency by passing our CPNRE exam. We are eager to get out on the front line of this pandemic and help as much as we can. Please, help us become the nurses we can be and allow us to help our community during this trying time.