Nursing Clinical Facilitators: Your Responses

Welcome back, sports fans! As you may know, we’re in our (three-week long) halftime break in the ongoing Collective Agreement negotiations between the College Employer Council Wheat Kings and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology [Academic] Division) Dynamo.

The first half was a rather, um, defensive affair, and the College management team seems to have adopted a strategy reminiscent of last season’s Philadelphia Flyers, in their refusal thus far to negotiate “monetary” issues like salary, benefits (like sick leave) and workload.

In response, as you may know, the Union’s team has requested the introduction of a referee, ideally with the goal of spurring the proceedings on, somewhat.

Granted, the College management team did cap off the first half by introducing one particular strategy that reminds me of a match that I remember seeing in Wisconsin, a couple of years back. That would be the proposal to create a new job category, to do the work of teaching Nursing students in clinical settings – work that is currently done by professors in Nursing programs.

And as my last report indicated, these new Nursing Clinical Facilitators would lack job security and benefits, would potentially be scheduled to teach more hours than full-tie faculty, and would receive no additional money for hours spent preparing or grading.

I’ve had the pleasure of receiving three e-mails in response to my begging last post, and I wanted to devote today’s post to them.

The first response comes from a Nursing prof at a College in Southwestern Ontario. In addition to raising concerns about the effect of Nursing Clinical Facilitators upon the academic standards of degree programs, she also raises an important point of the academic effects of excluding on-site teachers from the students’ classroom experience:

[T]hese facilitators won’t have the same knowledge of the curriculum and therefore won’t be able to integrate all aspects of the curriculum in to the clinical experience.

[As well,] they will be taking away work which we truly love—being in the hospitals with the students and patients.  The College of Nurses expect that nurses are maintaining their competency and being in the hospital allows us to do so.  By taking this away, we may be in jeopardy of losing our competency—something we don’t want to see happen.

We need to make sure that this new classification is not allowed—how can we get this message to all members?

A worthy question indeed. I suppose one possible way would be to click on the button at the bottom of this post, but no doubt there are better ways, as well. I wonder if the College of Nurses of Ontario might also have some opinions about this development, regarding its effects on both students, nurses, and nursing faculty?

Our second response comes from a professor at a different College in Southwestern Ontario. She writes that this kind of parcelling out of work formerly done by Full-time faculty…

 …is really nothing new…it’s just a new twist on what management has been doing (and frequently getting away with) to not hire full-time faculty. Simply take someone’s full-time position and break it up into smaller pieces and then hire part-time people to fill them. 

Most recently, when a member of our Local Executive left the College, management refused to hire another Full-time faculty member as a replacement. Their argument was: “But [the professor] only taught 2 courses, so we are not going to replace [him/her] with a full-time professor”. In actual fact, the rest of the professor’s teaching load (which had been bought by the Local) was given to part-time/partial load professors. So here comes another grievance.

It’s obviously true that full-time positions have been parcelled out to contract faculty long before Nursing Clinical Facilitators were proposed, but I do think that this represents a very real and dangerous innovation, for two reasons:

a) It narrowly and unreasonably treats only those who teach in classrooms as being “real” professors (with others, whether they teach on-site or in clinical settings or workshops being relegated to the status of “facilitators”), and 

b) The College management’s proposal completely severs the salary of Nursing Clinical Facilitators from academic comparator groups. These employees would be doing the work of Ontario’s full-time faculty (or more), but paid like Ontario’s part-time nurses. 

Both of those points have in common the fact that the College management’s proposal for Nursing Clinical Facilitators deliberately – in its wording and its details – ignores the value of these educators’ experience and expertise as teachers.

Our last response comes, tellingly, from a prospective applicant to a Nursing degree program:

I found your article very intriguing, as I plan on going back to school for nursing and, after the degree, to try to get a job teaching massage (as I am currently an RMT). Are the college teachers not in a union? I don’t understand how they will let this slide, as there isn’t a chance I’d allow that as a full or part time professor/teacher.

Are college teachers in a union? Yes.

Are we united? Time will tell, but letters such as these might have an impact.

Are we a community? I’m hoping so, which is why I invite you to send me your opinions, at ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com

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