Nearly-graduated nursing students fast-tracked into service after COVID-19 crisis cut practicums short
'We are expediting those practice permits as quickly as we can'
Nursing students who were only hours away from completing their programs will be aiding the fight against COVID-19 in Alberta.
In March, some clinical practicums were cut short, leaving fourth-year students without the hours needed to fully complete their requirements.
Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary are now fast-tracking those new nurses into the workforce.
Elizabeth Van Den Kerkhof, director of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at MRU, says fourth-year students are being evaluated on the basis of what they achieved during their practicum, rather than hours spent in it.
"The vast majority had already achieved those competencies … so they were immediately progressed and finished with their clinical," she said.
Zahra Shajani, associate dean for the U of C's faculty of nursing, says they made a similar exception for their fourth-year students.
"We didn't focus so much on the hours. We focused on the entry to practice competencies and if they were meeting the entry to practice competencies," she said.
"We reduced a little bit of the hours, then we would allow them to finish."
In order to be able to apply for work, nursing students first need to be approved for a graduate nurse permit and then apply for a provisional permit through the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA).
Shelley MacGregor, deputy registrar with the regulatory body, says that while granting provisional permits is standard, they are speeding up the process during the health emergency.
"We are expediting those practice permits as quickly as we can as we know that some of them may be may be going into areas for the pandemic response," she said.
Graduates are required to take their Registered Nurse (RN) exam within two years of completing their program, which is standard.
Mount Royal University says about 200 students are being reviewed by CARNA.
CARNA confirmed that 49 have been approved for the permit so far.
The University of Calgary says 151 of its students are being reviewed.
As for retired RNs, CARNA says they have processed 36 re-registrations for them to be recalled.