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B.C. nursing students’ education in limbo as college program yanked mid-stream

Vancouver Career College not responding to student requests after LPN program abruptly ends
Vancouver Career College is not responding to student requests after their LPN program abruptly ended in October, leaving 10 students without the education they paid for. (Submitted photo)

Ten students who expected to be working as licensed practical nurses by the spring have had their education stopped short.

The students are enrolled at Vancouver Career College in Abbotsford, and things had been going along well throughout the year. But just a few hours into their clinical placements, it all ended due to staffing shortages.

Five of the students were set up to do their clinical work at Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH), and five at Abbotsford Regional Hospital (ARH). Neither group got more than a day or two in before the program was pulled out from under them, including Preet Rana.

Rana was in the CGH group, and they were given their orientation shift on Oct. 3. Abbotsford’s group had their orientation on Oct. 5.

“After Oct. 6, the ARH students who had their schedule set … had their clinical canceled every week due to the shortage of staffing,” she said. “This group has missed over 50 per cent of their clinical time and that is unacceptable.”

CGH’s group was going well until they were informed on Oct. 19 that their clinical placements were cancelled until further notice.

“The reasoning behind the cancellation is due to the college and the instructor,” Rana said. “The instructor had asked for a wage increase prior to taking us students out on clinical, until the instructor found out that they did not receive that wage increase as asked for.”

She said the remaining staff have been supportive, but that they haven’t received any information from the college about what happens next. They were given an email address, but emails have gone unanswered. The News has also attempted to contact Vancouver Career College. There are no phone numbers listed on the website, and emails to the school have gone unanswered as well.

@prana97 Nursing student concerns regarding education. Please make this go viral. #foryoupage #nursingstudent #concerns #nursingschool #educationrights #abbotsford #bc ♬ original sound - preetrana

Meanwhile, the clinical time that was set up with the two hospitals is slipping by quickly. The rotations were set to end Nov. 9 and 11. After clinical placements, the students would have been placed in preceptorships, and they were set to graduate on Jan. 12.

All of them expected to be entering the workforce shortly after, and helping to alleviate the nursing shortage being felt in B.C.

“We demand that action be taken on this matter immediately,” Rana said. “We do not find it fair to have paid $35,000 in tuition and put in all our hard work just for us to receive no answers. Some of us are single parents with daycare costs, and some of us had to stop working due to our clinical placements just for it to get canceled.”

It has caused a huge financial burden on the students, she added, and they are making plans to file a dispute.

Vancouver Career College is a private collage, and there are regulatory standards it must follow. That includes providing the work experience as set out in the course outline.

The regulation states that “if a program contains a work experience (practicum, preceptorship, clinical placement, co-op), the institution must provide the work experience before the end date of the program unless the registrar determines the institution was prevented from doing so by circumstances beyond its control.”

However, there is no wording to define what circumstances that could mean. The program was approved by the registrar of the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.

”It’s very frustrating,” Rana said. “There is a shortage of nurses in the province and we’ve been put on hold.”

She said that while the instructors deserve better pay, the students also deserve the education they paid for.

Vancouver Career College is currently advertising for an LPN instructor to start immediately. It is listed as a part-time position with a pay scale of $33 to $36 per hour.

READ MORE: New equipment allows even better real-world training for UFV nursing students

Jessica Peters

About the Author: Jessica Peters

I began my career in 1999, covering communities across the Fraser Valley ever since.
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