UNB nursing students face graduation delay

Nursing students at UNB worry they won’t graduate on time if the strike drags on.
Erin Eastwood wants the strike resolved. (CBC)

Nursing students at UNB worry they won’t graduate on time if the strike drags on.

Some nursing students in their final year say each day outside of the classroom means a day further from finishing on time.

“If we don't have our coursework done and our community and clinical hours in, we're not eligible to graduate and then not eligible to write these exams,” said Erin Eastwood.

The University of New Brunswick's Moncton campus has 140 nursing students. Of those, 38 are in their final year.

Student Vicki Phillips said she doesn’t know when she’ll graduate. “We won't know until we are back and sitting in a seat in the classroom and have the instructor in front of us and say 'OK, this what we can do, this is what we can't do,'” she said.

National exam looming

Ashley McKim said catching up would be hard. “Trying to pack almost 108 hours into four weeks that's left, before February 28 when our term ends? That's pretty tough to do,” she said.

On top of the class hours, the students also have another six weeks of clinical hours to do before taking a national exam on June 4.

Eastwood said missing that date would cause problems. “So then we can't get hired as a registered nurse, and the next opportunity we'll have to write these exams is in October. So that's months and months of not being hired as an RN and losing wages,” she said.

“There's a lot of ifs and maybes in a cover letter and resume right now when you're talking to potential employers, saying I'm hoping to graduate in May and I should be writing this year the national exam in June,” said McKim.

Phillips said the strike has gone on long enough.

“There's got to be somewhere where they can to compromise. I know there's a huge gap there. But between here and there, there's all this area. There's got to be some kind of compromise,” she said.

Both sides in the University of New Brunswick labour dispute are expected to head back to the bargaining table this week with a mediator imposed by the province.

Striking Mount Allison professors and librarians hit the picket line for a second day Tuesday.