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Newfoundland and Labrador

With classes and work terms cancelled, MUN nursing students worry about graduating on time

Six people in winter clothes are standing on a sidewalk.  One holds a sign that says our future is in your hands.
Due to the industrial dispute between the university administration and its faculty association, Memorial University’s nursing students are afraid of graduating on time. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

A class of nursing students due to graduate in May is concerned it won’t happen due to a labor dispute between the Memorial University of Newfoundland faculty association and the university administration.

Madison Bailey, a fourth-year nursing student at MUN’s nursing faculty, said all of her classes have been canceled, along with a semester of work she was scheduled to complete amid the strike. However, the two other nursing schools in the province — the Eastern Health-operated Center for Nursing Studies and the Western Regional School of Nursing at Corner Brook — will remain unaffected.

“All of our classes and clinics are being suspended, which is particularly impacting my class as we are in our … final semester of nursing,” Bailey said Wednesday. “We’re basically doing our work semester right now, but this is taking a break.”

CNS students in the same 12-week work semester and unit as Bailey at the Health Sciences Center continue their education while Bailey and her classmates stand on the picket line in support of their striking instructors.

She said it was a stressful situation and the students were trying to find a way to complete their work semester, graduate on time and help with the province’s nursing shortage.

“Right now there’s a hiatus for 70 of us. That’s 70 new graduate nurses. Many of us go to Eastern Health and places in Newfoundland [when we graduate]’ Bailey said.

“We’re all super stressed. That is the consensus of our whole class. We don’t know what will happen. There was hardly any communication between us and the administration.”

A woman in a brown sweater and glasses sits in front of a window.  Outside the window is a brick building.
Madison Bailey, a fourth-year nursing student at MUN School of Nursing, says she has a job lined up after she graduates, but she worries she won’t graduate on time. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Bailey said she and her classmates support the faculty association but want to see the strike end soon so they can continue their education, return to hospital unit floors and get the work experience they need by May.

“The three schools should have the same curriculum. And we all get the same education, the same degree at the end of the day, but that’s definitely what affects us the most,” she said.

“There wasn’t really a plan for us. what will happen to us We still don’t know, and it’s been a few days. It could be a few days for this to continue, or it could be weeks. It could even be months and that could really impact us as we start our work in May.

Bailey, like many of her classmates, already has a job prospect, with orientation scheduled for May 1st.

Prime Minister Andrew Furey said the provincial government was hoping for a quick solution for the students.

“Just think about what these students have been through in the last three years. There was nothing normal about their education,” Furey said on Tuesday.

“Throwing an industrial dispute into their studies at this point is certainly problematic and we hope that both sides see that and both sides are open to coming back to the table and finding a quick solution to this.”

If the issue of representation on the university’s Council of Regency is the sticking point, Furey said, that’s something the government “would commit to”. But he added it’s not an overnight fix.

“The MUN Act is a very comprehensive law. It’s one that we would need multiple sources of input from, but that would be a commitment we would certainly honor,” he said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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