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Saint Mary's University nurse quits writing sick notes

A university nurse in Halifax is refusing to sign sick notes in a stance against students who fake illnesses around exam time.

Jane Collins says she sees too many students faking illness

Saint Mary’s University students can still go to a doctor when they are sick and ask for a note. (www.smu.ca)

A university nurse in Halifax is refusing to sign sick notes after noticing a spike in students faking illnesses around exam time.

Jane Collins, nurse manager at the Student Health Centre out of Saint Mary's University, said she has signed hundreds of sick notes since she began working at the school 19 years ago.

At most universities in Nova Scotia, students who miss an exam for an illness are asked to provide medical documentation to the registrar's office. At Saint Mary's, Collins signed the notes for free.

Collins said she made the decision to stop offering notes right after the fall midterms, when there was a beeline for her office for sick notes.

"It just seemed like there were the same students coming in all the time. Usually it's, 'I've been throwing up all night' and they looked so well. I'm like 'What, you're throwing up all night? You look awesome.' Or students say, 'I have a really bad cold, I couldn't possibly write my exam today and I have two tomorrow,'" said Collins.

"It shouldn't be on me to absolve these guys from their exams."

Collins said she was booking an hour every day to writing sick notes.

"It's so out of control now," she said.

Saint Mary's University students can still go to a doctor when they are sick and ask for a note, but Collins said the professors are more than capable of noticing when a student is ill.

"Take me, and the clinic and the doctors out of the whole equation, and just have the students responsible for going to their exams or if they miss them because they're sick,'" said Collins.

She has the registrar's backing.

"They've always said my notes were worthless," she said. "But they take them anyways."

Collins said she'll make exceptions when it comes to mental health and chronic conditions.

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