Here at Trent University, a group of students are facing a year of financial and academic distress at the neglect of one of the main Academic departments on campus: the Trent-Fleming School of Nursing (TFSON). Third-year nursing students are preparing for their final year of school, and in the nursing course it’s the most important one of their degree. The final two semesters consist of 1.5 credits each of clinical placement, 300 hours each, making up three credits of the total 5.5 throughout their university degree. Placements can be inside or outside of Peterborough, and many students use this opportunity to move back home.
Information was given during a lecture in October, outlining the need for meeting with the nursing clinical coordinating staff to discuss possible placement options, as certain locations are not available for placements. These meetings were set to begin in January 2018. Collaborative students (meaning their degree is over four years, two semesters a calendar year) were given the opportunity to accelerate their graduation, and take their first semester, deemed “pre-consolidation,” over the summer, and the second, “consolidation,” over the fall. These students had to submit their notice of accelerating by the end of the 2017 fall semester, as they would have their meetings with the clinical coordinator before the non-accelerating students, whose placements begin in the fall semester of 2018.
However, an email was sent out to all third-year nursing students on January 10, 2018 cancelling all meetings for January and February for non-accelerating collaborative students, due to “staffing issues.” As of March 13, 2018, these students still have not heard from their faculty about when these meetings will take place, and have been kept in the dark about where their clinical placements can or may be. The TFSON has requested that all non-accelerating students refrain from contacting the faculty with regards to their clinical placements as there “just isn’t enough staff.”
There are two main issues with this. Firstly, the TFSON has known how many fourth-year students would be entering pre-consolidation in 2018 since offers of admission were accepted by first-year nursing students in 2015. The excuse of not having enough staff is unacceptable, as there was more than enough time for the TFSON to seek, hire and train adequate clinical coordinating staff for the start of meetings in January 2018. The week that the meetings were set to start is not the time to begin hiring staff for said meetings.
Secondly, these students also face a serious financial consequence of their faculty’s disorganization. The opportunity to leave Peterborough during fourth year has been well-known since before applications to the TFSON were completed, and is the reason many nursing students chose Trent University. Many students go home and live with their parents to save on living costs, or move to cities where rent is cheaper. Third-year collaborative students who are not accelerating have no opportunity to discuss where they may be placed come fall 2018. This means that anyone leaving Peterborough does not know if they can get a placement in the city that they are moving to, and leases in Peterborough expire on April 30, 2018. These students are forced to sign year-long leases in new cities without any prior knowledge about the possible placements available. Furthermore, if the clinical coordinating staff cannot find a placement in a student’s city of choice, they are placed in Peterborough, and forced to move back. These students are given a minimum of 48 hours’ notice before the start of said placement in Peterborough. For a student who is already committed to paying rent for 12 months in another city, the financial implications of this can be devastating.
The TFSON’s actions regarding this issue have been irresponsible to their students. The TFSON should have planned ahead for clinical coordinating staff well before the start of these meetings. Their neglect has caused a large body of Trent students to face the possibility financial and academic distress for the 2018/2019 semester, as well as severe emotional distress while this issue has played out since October 2017.