Frustration is increasing among some Barbados Community College (BCC) Bachelors’ Degree nursing students who are uncertain about the status of their education in light of setbacks brought on by the second wave of COVID-19.
Upset undergrads, particularly those in the latter stages of their degrees, are also pointing fingers at college administration over what they believe, is an absence of definitive answers about the clinical component of their studies, which is a pre-requisite for graduation.
Student representatives have also shared with Barbados TODAY a list of complaints from trainee nurses about perceived shortcomings of the programme.
In response, BCC Principal Annette Alleyne said that meetings are being held with nursing students to resolve the challenges. She has also underscored the college’s commitment to resolving student grievances through established internal procedures and noted that in this instance, no formal complaints were submitted.
The issues are arising from a decision last month for the college’s over 3,000 students to revert to online learning following an explosion in COVID-19 cases on the island.
The decision is however causing headaches for students whose degree programmes contain practical elements. Under the circumstances, many of the nursing students fear they may be unable to finish college as they juggle school, work and family life.
Third years for example complained that in year two (2020), they were unable to complete the required clinical component. If unable to do clinicals again in year three, the students fear they will be doubly set back.
“We are trying to find out when we would be able to do our clinicals because at the end of the day, some of us started in 2017 and some started in 2016,” said one student, who requested anonymity.
“We had a meeting but nothing really came out of it. It was addressing issues that the students had but at the end of the day, the person who was in charge of the meeting couldn’t give information. She said that she would forward the questions up the line of command and I guess we are to wait until that response comes,” the student added.
Principal Alleyne however told Barbados TODAY that plans are already in train for nursing students to receive COVID-19 vaccination to prepare them for clinicals in the current environment. In fact, she said some fourth year students have already been vaccinated.
Based on advice from the department, she promised more meetings would be held with students to provide further clarity on any issues.
For the future, Alleyne however encouraged students to have their grievances addressed through the college’s internal mechanisms.
“If there are any unresolved complaints at the departmental or divisional level, students have the office of the registrar available as the registry deals with student affairs. If they are still not satisfied, they may refer their concerns to the principal. My contact number is 230-4311,” Alleyne advised.
“If there is no resolution, they can relay the concerns to the Board of Management. There are mechanisms in place for addressing students’ concerns,” she added.