Quebec nursing students cry foul after more than half fail licensing exam

Thérèse Rizk was considered one of the best nursing students at her Montreal school and she looked forward to working in the provincial health care system, which was sorely understaffed.

All she had to do was pass her licensing exam, which she took at the end of September.

With 13 years of experience as a licensed midwife and three more as a school nurse in Lebanon, Rizk had every reason to be confident.

« I have very high [grades] … I worked hard, » she said.

So imagine her surprise – and crushing disappointment – ​​when she failed. And Rizk was not alone.

According to the Professional Order of Nurses of Quebec (OIIQ), 54.6% of students failed the written permit exam at the end of September. For those taking the test for the first time, the failure rate was 48.6%, the lowest rate recorded in four years.

Since 2018, the success rate for first-time testers has increased from 71% to 96%.

« The exam was not what we studied in school, » said Rizk, who completed a 10-month professional integration program at CÉGEP du Vieux-Montréal – specially designed for people who held diplomas. nurse from outside Quebec.

« It makes no sense…it was ridiculous, » she said.

The exam does not reflect the reality of studies, says a teacher

Joseph Oujeil teaches nursing at CÉGEP du Vieux Montréal and CÉGEP André-Laurendeau. He said Rizk was his best student.

« It was a surprise for me and many of my students, and I’m talking about brilliant students with very good grades, » Oujeil said.

Marie-Soleil Robinson, another student who failed the exam in September, said only seven of her 30 classmates passed.

Oujeil said this failure rate is not normal and comes at a terrible time as Quebec faces a nursing shortage.

« I think the average results have to be looked at, » Oujeil said.

The review results come at a time when emergency rooms and other hospital services across the province have been forced to close or limit hours of operation due to nursing shortages. (Images Shutterstock/Alliance)

He said students told him that the exam « does not reflect the real reality of what we teach them in school or during their studies nor does it reflect what they have seen in their training. clinical ».

Rizk wants to see the grades revised. If not, she’ll be back at the exam table in March after yet more money and months of studying.

« It’s not fair, » she said.

The pandemic to blame, says the OIIQ

A spokeswoman for the Order of Nurses of Quebec, Chantal Lemay, said the exam had been virtually the same for years.

What has changed, she added, is the environment in which students learn.

« We think the pandemic has something to do with students’ ability to consolidate what they had learned during their training, » Lemay said.

Chantal Lemay, spokesperson for the Professional Order of Nurses of Quebec, says the exam has been virtually the same for years, but the pandemic may have had an effect on the results this year. (Radio-Canada)

Although the Quebec government is struggling to fill ever-widening nursing gaps across the province, Ms. Lemay said the OIIQ is not going to lower its standards.

“Our mandate is to protect the public and to do that we have this review,” Lemay said.

The Quebec government has struggled to recruit nurses throughout the pandemic as overstretched staff quit en masse.

Tens of thousands have moved into the private sector, left the province or left the profession altogether.

Emergency rooms and other hospital services across the province have been forced to close or limit their hours of operation due to the nursing shortage. And forcing nurses to work long overtime every week to fill the shortage has only leads to more burnout.

28,000 new nurses needed in Quebec within 5 years

Last year, Quebec launched a historic recruitment mission abroad to recruit 4,000 nurses and social workers.

But the situation remained dire in early 2022, forcing Prime Minister Francois Legault to ask government workers to volunteer to work in hospitals to make up for the losses.

In addition to offering incentive programs to attract private sector employees to the public system, Quebec announced in February a Investment of $65 million recruit and train approximately 1,000 nurses from French-speaking countries to work in seven regions of the province where the shortage of nurses is most acute.

Health Minister Christian Dubé has also earmarked $750 million over five years to train and hire a few thousand administrative assistants to ease the burden on nurses.

Either way, a government health care study last April found that graduation, immigration and other measures won’t meet the province’s needs.

The study found that 28,000 new hires will be needed over the next five years.


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