Students continue to raise concerns over the quality of clinical placements.
The dean of nursing at the University of Technology, Sydney has warned undergraduate nursing students there are penalties for student misconduct after frustrations over clinical placements escalated and resulted in a ‘disturbing’ email to faculty staff.
The email was also posted on internal student web forums.
In an urgent response on August 11, the dean John Daly reminded students that sending inappropriate emails or posts was considered to be a breach of student conduct, and disciplinary action would be taken.
Daly described the student’s email as “disturbing” and a “highly unusual single complaint” about the nature of their clinical placement. Daly told Nursing Review the complaint was made directly to staff and contained extremely offensive language.
However it is understood that there is disquiet among students about the quality and appropriateness of placements. And the problem could spread beyond UTS with the growing number of nursing enrolments placing increased pressure on the system of clinical placements.
This raises significant questions about the capacity of universities to provide quality practical education when enrolments are uncapped from next year.
Daly told Nursing Review a communication plan was currently being drafted to discuss the importance of undertaking placements in a variety of clinical settings.
He added however the complaint which sparked his response “was not about the relevance of the placement but dissatisfaction that the student had not received a placement in their most preferred setting”.
In his email to students, he acknowledged their frustrations but said the university was working in difficult circumstances exacerbated by large student numbers and an undersupply of clinical placements.
“Whilst I understand some of you will be disappointed with the clinical placement you receive at times, it is important that you understand the limitations we face in attempting to find you the best possible environment for you to develop your competencies as a nurse within a complex health system,” he wrote. NR has spoken to a number of undergraduate nursing students at UTS who have raised similar issues with clinical placements, citing concerns over the quality, type and location of placements.
Students described frustrations with poor quality placements unrelated to student preferences, as well as having to commute long distances after completing a night shift.
They said the university guaranteed clinical placement hours but not quality and they had raised these concerns with teaching staff.
Daly said he believed his email was appropriate and had invited students to arrange a personal meeting with him to discuss any further concerns, but said no other students had taken up the offer.
One student told NR they had requested a meeting with the dean, but was yet to receive a response.
“As dean I have a responsibility to both staff and students to provide a safe working environment and I believe it was appropriate in this case to remind students of their responsibilities,” said Daly.
The faculty’s associate dean teaching and learning has since met with the student who made the complaint and a student representative.
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