Four institutions denounce discriminatory treatment of Francophone candidates taking nursing profession entrance examination
Moncton, June 18, 2018 – The leaders of four institutions this afternoon denounced the discriminatory treatment of Francophone candidates taking the NCLEX-RN examination to enter the nursing profession.
This denunciation followed the failure of over 50 percent of candidates on their first attempt to pass this American examination, being administered in Canada. After four years of study to obtain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing from a program regulated by the Nurses Association of New Brunswick (NANB), Francophones’ chances of passing are reduced because examination preparatory materials are not available in French and the examination was developed first in English and then translated into French.
The leaders of the Université de Moncton, Vitalité Health Network, the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) and the Association des collèges et universités de la francophonie canadienne (ACUFC) – all concerned about the impact these results may have on the quality of health care services provided to Francophones – are pressing the NANB and the Premier of New Brunswick, Brian Gallant, as minister responsible for application of the New Brunswick Official Languages Act, to move as quickly as possible to correct this situation.
In 2014, the last year the old examination was administered, Université de Moncton graduates had a success rate of 93 percent. The following year, when the NCLEX-RN examination was administered for the first time, the success rate dropped to 32 percent. Candidates who fail may obtain a temporary practice licence for a two-year period but they must retake and pass the examination.
“A number of students opt to take the English version of the NCLEX-RN because more resources are available in English to prepare for the exam,” explained the Acting President and Vice-Chancellor of the Université de Moncton, Jacques Paul Couturier. “We demand that the NANB respects the provisions of the Official Languages Act and chooses an option that offers Francophones and Anglophones the same resources as they prepare for their evaluation that will allow them to practise nursing,” he added.
Vitalité Health Network is concerned about the province’s shortage of professionals, and these entrance exam results are not at all encouraging in this regard.
The serious deficiencies in the French version of the NCLEX-RN exam as well as the lack of learning tools, as identified by the New Brunswick Commissioner of Official Languages, reduce the success rate of graduates attempting to enter the nursing profession and considerably hinder our recruitment efforts
“The challenges involved in recruiting registered nurses in New Brunswick are impeding the Network’s efforts to fulfill its mission of excelling in improving the population’s health. The serious deficiencies in the French version of the NCLEX-RN exam as well as the lack of learning tools, as identified by the New Brunswick Commissioner of Official Languages, reduce the success rate of graduates attempting to enter the nursing profession and considerably hinder our recruitment efforts,” stated Gilles Lanteigne, President and CEO of Vitalité Health Network. “It is imperative to implement the Commissioner of Official Languages’ recommendations in order to prevent the current situation, which is unfair and unfortunate, from lasting any longer. Vitalité Health Network is asking the government authorities, the NANB and other stakeholders to work together to resolve this major issue. Further, we believe that short-term measures must be implemented to help nursing graduates enter the labour market in a timely manner. The Network has full confidence in the quality of the training provided in New Brunswick and in the professional skills of the province’s graduates,” he added.
At the CCNB, the concern extends to other professional associations whose future members could face a similar situation. “New Brunswick is the only province in Canada where professional associations are subject to an Official Languages Act since July 1, 2016. This is why we are urging the Government of New Brunswick to quickly implement incentives and an awareness campaign intended for professional associations on the importance of adopting regulations factoring in Francophones’ access to professions – access that is of equal quality to that offered to Anglophones,” explained Liane Roy, President of the CCNB
This issue is not unique to the Province of New Brunswick. Some Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta nursing schools also offer their programs in French, in whole or in part, and this affects all students who choose to study in that language. “The repercussions of the deficiencies in the NCLEX-RN exam are being felt across the country and are jeopardizing the future of French-language health care in Canada. This situation is unacceptable and even undermines the work conducted in recent years, with the support of Health Canada, to increase access to French-language nursing services. Immediate steps must be taken to develop a genuinely bilingual Canada-wide exam that evaluates candidates’ competencies within a Canadian context,” stated Lynn Brouillette, Executive Director of the ACUFC.
The leaders of the four institutions hope to shine a light on the violation of Francophones’ language rights and on the systemic discrimination they experience in the nursing profession and potentially other professions in New Brunswick and elsewhere in Canada.