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Update for Students: Healthcare Students to Support Long‑term Care Sectors

Posted by School of Nursing Staff on January 29, 2022 in Students

Long-term care (LTC) and acute-care settings are experiencing staff shortages because of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. Immediate help is needed to support LTC staff and residents.

Healthcare teams (and students’ future colleagues) need support and nursing students are well poised with the skills and knowledge to help a healthcare system that is in crisis.

Government and academic leaders have opened a conversation with students around moving up clinical placements planned for later this term to February. We know that the prospect of another academic change is stressful for students, especially one that is coming together so quickly. We are working with government partners to identify a range of ways students can answer this call.  

While these options are available for students to choose, we want to ensure that the implications of choices are clear.

1. Students will be offered the opportunity to complete clinical placements in LTC now. There will be no new acute care placements this term, and even LTC clinical placements may be at risk as time progresses. This is the surest path to the completion of timely academic requirements.

  • These placement opportunities will range from 2 to 4 weeks.
  • These placements will be supervised and evaluated by Dalhousie faculty and clinical instructors, just as those in hospital are.
  • These clinical hours will be applied to course completion requirements.
  • All course work will still be delivered, but within an altered schedule that allows us to respond to the pressing and urgent needs of our healthcare community and our vulnerable residents in LTC.
  • Skills required in acute care are important and students will get these valuable learning experiences within their program.
  • While group clinical placements are traditionally unpaid, government is offering a $1,000 honorarium in recognition of students’ participation in this unprecedented request and willingness to adapt to flexible educational program delivery.

2. Students are also being offered the opportunity to pursue paid employment in LTC. Many students currently work in the sector, as Continuing Care Assistants in-training; there is an opportunity to increase hours and support the sector in this important way. This would be an employment relationship and not be part of an academic placement, supervision, nor count as academic credit.

Details of these two options are still being finalized and will be shared with students when ready. We recognize this opportunity won’t be suitable for all students, which is entirely their choice. If there is a match between students seeking this kind of opportunity and LTC facilities who need support, students have an historic chance to use their skills and knowledge to significantly help long-term care residents, workers and their families.

We sincerely appreciate our students’ willingness to consider how they might step up to provide support during this time of crisis.

Brenda Merritt
Dean, Faculty of Health

Ruth Martin-Misener
Director, School of Nursing