The asserted will of the Ordre des nurses du Québec (OIIQ) to adopt the American examination for admission to the profession is received as a new rebellion against the college environment and technical training in nursing.
“There is a reasonable suspicion on our part,” says the president and CEO of the Fédération des cégeps, Bernard Tremblay.
In his eyes, the behavior of the order is downright “absurd”, when he presented the educational institutions with a fait accompli without having discussed his intention to adopt a new exam.
Thursday, the OIIQ expressed its desire to adopt the test known by the English acronym NCLEX-RN. This is the American standardized exam, also used in other Canadian provinces.
“It seems to me an answer that aims to make people forget all the errors that the order has made in recent years and the impact of its ill-founded and erroneous examinations at the methodological level”, he replies, recalling that people are currently suffering the consequences of this lack of rigour.
Bernard Tremblay hopes to see the government intervene since he perceives a denial on the part of the order in the face of the severe criticisms that have been addressed to it by the recent reports of the Commissioner for Admission to Professions.
He adds to this by accusing the order of “having no consideration for the students who are currently following their course”.
The Fédération des cégeps is part of the “Coalition for the maintenance of the qualifying DEC in nursing care”. A group that also includes the Quebec Collegiate Student Federation (FECQ). Its president, Maya Labrosse, says she does not understand the stubbornness of the OIIQ when the college network provides much better access to training.
“In terms of financial and geographical accessibility to the profession, there is no doubt that the college network is an important asset for having nurses in the health network,” she argues. , specifying that 46 of the 48 public CEGEPs offer the DEC in nursing.
Duty to protect the public
Universities could never compete with the size of the cohorts produced by CEGEPs each year. Maya Labrosse goes even further by accusing the order of failing in its duty to protect the public by campaigning against college education.
“By preventing nurses from qualifying and by taking away this accessibility, we would be depriving ourselves of hundreds of nurses each year,” asserts the spokesperson for the FECQ.
At the Order of Nurses of Quebec, the Director of Admissions and Registrar, Chantal Lemay, repeats that “an exam is not intended to verify the training […]it verifies the ability to practice safely”.
She adds that regardless of the mode of assessment chosen, the programs must prepare people to practice the profession. According to her, the decision to adopt the NCLEX-RN stems more from a need to upgrade to meet North American standards.
Chantal Lemay ensures that the examination and training files are “two different subjects”.
The minister says “No! »
Visibly angry at the actions of the OIIQ, Bernard Tremblay insists that “it is not their role to determine the level of education, it belongs to the Minister of Higher Education”.
Asked about this, Minister Pascale Déry’s office made it clear that it was not in favor of raising the minimum threshold for access to the nursing profession.
“There is no question of abolishing the technical program”, we were told. “We cannot deprive ourselves of all qualified graduates, they must access the network quickly. »
The minister’s office also points out that the current context of labor shortages is enough to close the debate.
A decision already made
The hasty decision of the OIIQ seems at first glance to come in reaction to the report of the commissioner for admission to professions, which severely criticized the methodology framing his current examination, but this is not the case.
The work in this direction had been started well before, according to the order, which had even received a favorable opinion in this direction as early as May 2022, that is to say almost four months before the fiasco of the event of September 2022. The success rate catastrophic 45.4% eventually led to an investigation by the Commissioner for Admission to Professions.
In his second progress report tabled this week, however, the commissioner warns the OIIQ against the temptation to turn to an exam designed by a third party, which the order wishes to do with the NCLEX-RN.
Me André Gariépy writes that “an exam is more than a technical evaluation tool” and that it “also reflects a vision of the profession against which we want to assess the aptitude of a candidate”.
Thus, he insists on the importance of having an approach consistent with the Quebec context of practice and the health network. He also warns that by choosing the American option, one loses “some control over the professional standard”.
The commissioner also mentions that such an approach must be carried out in collegiality with all the partners involved in the education and health network, which the OIIQ seems to have overlooked.