Nursing Graduates Address Letter to Premier

Letter to Quebec Premier François Legault and his entire extraordinary team.

On behalf of the next generation of nurses.

Mr. Legault, your press briefing on April 15 at 1:00 pm made me fall off my chair, just as it did many of my colleagues. Personally, it made me lose confidence in the way you are managing this crisis in the Long-Term Care Facilities (CHSLDs) and even in the consideration you have for the nursing vocation. Are you panicking?

Because in hearing how you talk, you seem to be forgetting that Quebec has a significant quantity of competent staff actually waiting to help and who have graciously been offering to assist since the start of the pandemic.

Mr. Premier, do you know how many graduates we have in health and nursing that are qualified to provide the care you are appealing for in the CHSLDs?

Factually, Mr. Legault, there are indeed many. And they already have more training than nursing assistants and orderlies. Beginning in May, as soon as their graduation is official, they will become candidates for the nursing profession and will perform the duties of registered nurses in our communities while waiting to pass their Quebec Order of Nurses' (OIIQ) examination in the fall.

Do you know what all this beautiful, cheap and healthy workforce is doing right now and will be doing for the next four weeks?

Taking improvised online courses, too often of poor quality. Doing online internship work, which in no way compensates for the essential experience that come with a real internship. All this under appalling conditions of social inequality, without any coherence between educational establishments. To boot, they have no guarantee of graduating as planned in May, as their professional order (OIIQ) has yet to validate or plan anything official that will allow them to access the profession at the beginning of May (due to the cancellation of the final internship of their 3-year advanced education training).

In addition, you are currently urging their teachers to abandon them to join the CHSLDs, obliged under force majeure, seriously threatening their already uncertain graduation.

Mr. Premier, if the situation is so critical and now requires asking medical specialists with salaries beyond the system's means, who do not have the qualifications to practice as nurses, to go to the CHSLDs, would it not be time to do like many other countries and consider our nursing graduates?

With all due respect, Mr. Premier, you appear to have the mistaken and awkward belief that the work of a nurse is beneath, rather than parallel and complementary to that of a doctor. As if a doctor had to master training as a nurse before being able to become a doctor. As if at university, that after studying nursing one continues on with accredited courses into medical school. Unfortunately, besides being degrading for the nursing profession, your perception is completely false and out of touch with reality.

Contrary to what you said during the previous press briefing, most of our doctors are not "overqualified" for the job, but untrained for the position. Most of them do not know how to take a blood sample, insert a catheter, perform ostomy care, apply specialized dressings, etc., or almost any nursing skills acquired after at least three years of solid training, combined with internship experience to master them. Unlike our graduates in care giving and nursing, for the most part they never learned to master the methods of safely moving patients according to [the established guidelines].

With your plan, which has become the subject of a lot of talk, you are using taxpayer money, our money, to pay doctors an exorbitant stipend even though they'll be doing at most only half of the work that nurses do. You cannot expect that they will be able to do much more than that with their valuable medical skills. For the vast majority of them do not even know how to install and adjust an intravenous infusion pump.

And of course that's to be expected because it's not their job, they haven't learned how to do it. Their essential skills lie elsewhere. You would not ask nurses to do the work of doctors. Well, it's the same thing. This hierarchy of health professions is a stubborn social prejudice. Please, Mr. Premier, do not feed that prejudice which is at the base of the faulty remuneration of our health professionals and the lack of recognition of these valuable professions within the system. Do not act as the vehicle of these false beliefs of another era.

I ask of you Mr. Legault, Mr. Premier and all your team, that for the sake of the safety of all our patients and cherished elders, for the sake of efficiency and out of respect for the nursing profession, which is not the basis for the profession of physician but, indeed, a full-fledged complete profession parallel and complementary to medicine, and so as not to place our valuable doctors in the awkward position of having to admit that they do not have the skills required to effectively replace a seasoned nurse, to consider the option of requesting the assistance of our graduating nurses and in the process, credit them for the 3-4 weeks of inconsistent and disconnected lessons they are currently being required to take online instead of responding to the current vital emergency.

Mr. Premier, give the CHSLDs the competent and efficient workforce they expect while saving our money by limiting our expenses and allowing our graduates and their professors to put their nursing skills to good use -- a profession, a vocation, still too little known and recognized.

Cordially and probably very awkwardly,

Graduating nurses of Quebec.

(April 15, 2020. Translated from original French by TML.)

This article was published in

Number 25 - April 24, 2020

Article Link:
Quebec: Nursing Graduates Address Letter to Premier


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