READERS PLEASE NOTE: This article was published
Nursing students must meet certain requirements before they can write nursing registration exams
Nursing students across Ontario could face challenges becoming registered nurses after work placements were cancelled due to COVID-19. The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) requires nursing graduates to complete a set number of placement hours before they can work in the field as registered nurses.
Nancy Walton, director of the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing, said that Ryerson is working closely with the CNO to determine how the move to online classes and placement cancellations will affect students. “We are especially concerned with our students … who are on their way to graduation,” she said. “We will put whatever supports in place that we can to help facilitate academic success.”
A spokesperson for the CNO said that they are working hard to answer questions from Ontario nursing schools. They said schools should consider options for meeting clinical placement criteria by considering the use of case studies, reflections or making up placement hours after it is deemed safe to do so.
Fourth-year nursing student Ferrisha Bolton-Brown was doing her final placement at a long-term care facility before the cancellations. “The [nursing school] has told us that our graduation won’t be affected. However, it’s pretty hard to believe,” she said. “Ultimately, it may affect our ability to get into the field as registered nurses.”
In a statement, Walton wrote that the prospect of students coming into contact with COVID-19 in the workplace was not the main concern contributing to the cancellation of placements. Instead, the decision was made to help promote social distancing and protect health-care workers.
Walton said that the cancellations will help keep protective items such as face masks available to health-care workers. “The supplies of personal protective equipment may be, in some places, limited and we don’t want to further add to that burden,” said Walton.
Walton said that many placements were cancelled as a result of hospitals and care facilities limiting non-essential personnel. “In a way, the decision was made for us.”