FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

For a nurses’ training model adapted to Québec realities

Over the past few months, I think I’ve heard every argument to justify the imposition of the Bachelor of Nursing degree as the only standard of admission to the nursing profession. However, it must be recognized that the indefatigable partisans of this position tend to present the mandatory Bachelor’s degree as a miracle cure and nurture to false hopes.

While the public is promised improved access to care, which at the same time would become safer, nurses are offered an expanded field of practice. Anyone who will listen is told that upgrading the standard of admission to the profession would contribute to reduce the negative effects of the nursing shortage. Elected representatives are dazzled by the possibility of substantial savings on healthcare investments. In short, everyone is told what they want to hear, but when we take time to look closer, we find that these assertions are based on arbitrary assessments and theoretical models, and that their applicability to the Québec model has yet to be proved.

During a tour last spring, I had the opportunity, like my colleagues on the FIQ Executive Committee, to meet healthcare professionals in every region of Québec. From my discussions with them, I note that the questions raised by the FIQ on the issue of initial training were totally relevant and justified and that the FIQ’s concerns reflected those of its members in all professions.

The FIQ was able to show the fragility of the foundations on which the adherents of the compulsory Bachelor’s degree based their arguments. The risks that the proposed initial plan will accentuate the adverse effects of the nursing shortage are very real. Fifteen thousand of you will retire over the few years. Québec healthcare professionals have been under pressure for far too long. The slightest pitfall adding to this pressure would have harmful consequences, with impacts for several years in terms of human and financial resources.

If there is one lesson to learn from the history of the Québec healthcare network, it is not to make major decisions solely on the basis of statistical projections without accounting for the reality and needs of the field. Remember the mass retirements of nurses in the late 1990s?

The FIQ proceeded with a rigorous analysis, spread over more than one year. A proposal has emerged that responds to the consensus positions of the partners, the specificities of the Québec college and university education system, and the urgent needs of the health and social services network. The integrated Québec model for nurses’ training, as proposed by the FIQ, allows a significant increase in the number of nurses holding a Bachelor’s degree, while respecting Québec institutions and without weakening the health and social services network and the education network.

The FIQ therefore is not against the Bachelor of Nursing degree. It is the mandatory nature of the OIIQ’s proposal that is unacceptable in the Québec context. In fact, our model enhances all the richness and diversity of training, experience and expertise acquired by all Québec nurses, who contribute every day to better care for the Québec population.

The OIIQ is holding its next annual Congress in October. I hope this will be the opportunity to address head on the questions that concern us and that still remain unanswered.

To learn more about the integrated Québec model for nurses’ training, developed by the FIQ, I invite you to consult the last edition of FIQ en Action.

Have A good summer, everyone!