How to Turn an $80,000 Job into a $40,000 Job.

[Tedious disclaimer: These are my personal thoughts based exclusively upon a reading of the College Employer Council’s “College Proposal on Nursing Clinical Facilitators”, dated July 11, 2012. The opinions expressed herein are strictly my own.  Any misinterpretations or errors of fact are therefore my own fault, and will be corrected as soon as they are brought to my attention.]

Okay, well, it appears that the College Employer Council’s bargaining team has still yet to present its proposals regarding salary, benefits, and (I assume) workload, despite the fact that we’re almost halfway through the scheduled dates for negotiating the upcoming Collective Agreement.

I do note, however, that the college management team has provided the details surrounding its latest vision for nursing teachers, on its website. I’d urge you to take a look, noting that almost all of Ontario’s colleges appear to have nursing programs, so the proposal would have far-reaching effects for all of our communities.

I’ll take a stab at providing a bit of context. The following points are based on my casual understanding of the work of Nursing profs. I may be off on some of the details, and I ask you to please politely correct (at ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com) the points in which I may be in error.

Currently, students enroll in nursing programs (both diploma- and degree-level), and faculty teach them in their various courses. In addition to their classroom courses, students also complete at least one on-site practicum, which takes place in a clinical medical setting. There, they get the experience of working as part of a nursing team, and apply their classroom knowledge to a workplace setting.

The practicum has many advantages, and I probably don’t need to say any more about its important role in complementing the instruction that the students receive (either previously or concurrently) in the classroom.

Up to now, those practicums have been taught by faculty. In the case of full-time faculty, the practicum course would  — like any course — be part of the faculty member’s workload, and the faculty member would be assigned time (according to the Standard Workload Formula) to prepare for the course, and to evaluate the students. Partial-Load faculty, on the other hand, wouldn’t receive the benefit of SWF calculations, but they would still be paid according to the salary scale, which currently runs anywhere from $78.75 to $136.62 per contact hour (a figure which incorporates — however inadequately — the time spent on preparation and evaluation).

In its proposal, the College Management seeks to take the practicum teaching out of the hands of those professors entirely, through the creation of an entirely new job category: Nursing Clinical Faciliator.

A Nursing Clinical Facilitator would do exactly what the faculty who teach the practicum courses in Ontario’s colleges do right now: Prepare, teach, supervise, and evaluate students in their clinical placements, and work with the health personnel in those settings to ensure a successful learning (and nursing) environment.

So what’s the difference, you ask? Well, as the infomercial used to say: Price is the difference

Let’s start with some facts provided from the College Management proposal: Instead the annual salary that a Full-time faculty member receives; and instead of the (related) hourly wage that a Partial-Load faculty member receives, a Nursing Clinical Facilitator would only receive an hourly rate from $29.36 (the minimum) to $42.44 (the maximum, which is achievable after “25 years” of experience. Memo to God: Please tell me that’s a typo that I’m reading).

As well, instead of the “class prep” time and evaluation that’s measured on the SWF for full-time faculty (and worked into the hourly rate of Partial-load faculty), Nursing Clinical Facilitators (NCFs) would be paid for an additional 30 minutes per contact hour, to cover both preparation and evaluation, regardless of the number of students.

By way of comparison, a Full-time faculty member currently receives at least 40 minutes of prep time per contact hour for one of the practicum courses taught (and 21 minutes per hour for any additional sections of the same course taught in a semester).

And that’s just prep; additional time would be provided for evaluation, according to the number of students in the class, and the modes of evaluation.

But, as I said, NCFs would only be granted credit for 30 minutes of prep and evaluation for each contract hour. So tacking 50% on to the hourly rate, would result in a rate ranging from . . . $33.76 to $63.66 for the NCF with 25 years’ experience.

That’s less than half the hourly rate earned by Partial-load faculty.

NCFs would also not get vacation or benefits. Instead, they’d be given an additional 13% on top of their “straight time hourly rate” (or only 9% if they’re contributing to a pension plan) to cover those things.

I’m interpreting “straight time hourly rate” to indicate that the premium for vacation/benefits would be paid only for contact hours, not for the (half-)hours attributed for preparation and evaluation. So, doing the quick math, salary plus vacation plus benefits comes to a grand total of an hourly rate that ranges from $47.86 to $69.18 per contact hour. That’s all-in, including preparation, evaluation, “complementary functions”, benefits (or the lack thereof), pension (or the lack thereof), and vacation (or the lack thereof).

About 60% of the pay of Partial-load faculty, who get benefits in addition.

Furthermore, NCFs would be permitted to work a maximum of 24 contact hours per week, for a maximum of 30 weeks per academic year.  That’s a maximum of 720 contact hours per year, which is 72 more than the maximum that FT faculty can be assigned without overtime.

(Which leads me to the following marketing slogan — “Nursing Clinical Facilitator: All the workload of a full-time professor; all the pay and benefits of a part-time nurse.” Catchy?)

So, just to sum up, a Nursing Clinical Facilitator would be doing work currently done by Full-time or Partial-load faculty – work that includes preparation, teaching, and evaluation of students, potentially for more hours than full-time faculty members could be assigned throughout the course of a year…

…all for a maximum final annual take-home pay of $34,459 to $49,809.

For the people who teach our nursing students.

In hospitals.

Often for a degree program.

Who have years of training both as nurses and as educators.

With no benefits.

(And be sure to subtract about 3% from that if you want to pay into a pension plan.)

But wait (as the infomercial says), there’s more…

The management proposal would have the starting step for NCFs be the pay step that s/he would be paid at “pursuant to the Ontario Hospitals’ central collective agreement with the Ontario Nurses’ Association”. Of course, NCFs wouldn’t actually be members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association, so OPSEU would, um, no longer be their exclusive bargaining agent, but I digress.

I’ll leave you to guess how many steps the Ontario Nurses’ Association college agreement will credit one with for years of college teaching experience. My guess is none.

And while we’re talking about salary steps, I notice that new steps would be granted for every 1500 hours of service. (Remember that 720 maximum contact hours per academic year rule, above.)

Lastly, I note that Nursing Clinical Facilitators could be laid off on 30 days’ notice, and would also have the unique ability to lose their jobs to senior colleagues, without the right to bump junior ones.

And would there be a chance of being bumped by senior colleagues? Well, Nursing Clinical Facilitators would clearly be teaching practicums that are currently being taught by Full-time or Partial-load faculty. More teaching done by NCFs means less work for those faculty members. Which means less need for them.

And while Article 2.01B in the proposal claims that “No professor or instructor shall be laid off, reclassified, or displaced from their classification as a direct result of the hiring of a Nursing Clinical Facilitator”, it makes no such assurances regarding the indirect results of hiring a Nursing Clinical Facilitator —  one of which would be the reduced need for other professors.

*                    *                    *

So there you have it, folks: All you have to do is take work currently being done by faculty, break it into pieces, create separate job categories for each of those pieces, create a new pay scale that ignores the expertise and experience of professors, take away benefits, and mandate a complete lack of job security.

And that’s how you turn an $80,000-a-year job into a $40,000-a-year job.

Get back to me with your thoughts or corrections, at ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com

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