FIQ (Fédération Interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec)

Failure rate for the OIIQ exam – CEPIs between a rock and a hard place

Failure rate for the OIIQ exam – CEPIs between a rock and a hard place

On January 18, the Commissioner for Admission to Professions published a first progress report as part of its investigation into the failure rate for the last exam given by the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ) on September 26, 2022.

Remember that the Commissioner’s investigation is delving into both the exam and the situation for candidates, including exam training and preparation.

While not in a position at this stage to draw definitive conclusions on the causes of the low success rate for the September 2022 exam, the Commissioner believed that a first overview of the situation justified some recommendations:

  • Postpone the OIIQ exam, currently scheduled for March 27, 2023.
  • Grant candidates who failed the exam for a third time in September 2022 another try and, in the meantime, restore their CEPI status.

The OIIQ’s response to the Commissioner’s recommendations

Earlier today, the OIIQ issued a press release about the measures it intends to take in response to the recommendations in the Commissioner for Admission to Professions’ first progress report on the investigation. Our main observations:

  • The temporary suspension of the obligation for all CEPIs to take the exam in March 2023 and the option to take the exam in September.
  • A renewed right to practice under the CEPI title for people who failed the exam for a third time in September 2022 or for whom the deadline for taking the exam was in September 2022.
  • A fourth try at taking the exam for CEPIs who failed a third time at the September 2022 exam.
  • Encouragement for nursing administrations to support CEPIs in their decision to take or not take the exam in 2023.

By taking this position, the Ordre is washing its hands of all responsibility of the consequences of the unprecedented failure rate for the last exam in 2022. As such, candidates for admission to the practice of the nursing profession find themselves between a rock and a hard place. It means they must choose between taking the exam in March and risking a fourth failure before the Commissioner can finish the investigation or wait for the exam in September 2023 and suffer the financial impacts of a lower salary for several more months due to their status.

While the Commissioner clearly stated that “candidates in all probability were adversely affected on their path to entering the profession,” we can only deplore the half-baked position the professional order has chosen to take.

An ongoing investigation

In the meantime, the Commissioner for Admission to Professions is continuing its investigation and is not ruling out the possibility that other progress reports could be published before its final report comes out.

The FIQ hopes the Commissioner will take the statement it submitted and its recommendations, which come directly from healthcare professionals’ experience, into consideration.

Working and practice conditions play a decisive role in the preparation and success rate for CEPIs in the admission exam. We know difficult working conditions are nothing new in the health network. That said, they have deteriorated considerably since the beginning of the pandemic, which meant the following for candidates:

  • Insufficient nursing supervision.
  • Lack of preparatory leaves for the exam.
  • Marked increase in overtime hours, especially mandatory overtime hours.

Consequently, CEPIs have been deprived of an environment allowing them to consolidate what they have learned and to revise theoretical knowledge. It is highly plausible that this contributed to the low success rate for the OIIQ exam.

Recommendations for improving preparation for the exam

In its statement, the FIQ made recommendations for the network institutions, but in particular for their nursing administration which is responsible for CEPI activities.

The FIQ therefore requests that the institutions in the health and social services network:

  • Ensure CEPIs have nursing supervision, as stipulated in the regulation.
  • Grant the CEPIs the leaves, as stipulated in the local provisions of the collective agreement, to prepare for the admission exam to the profession.
  • Limit overtime hours, especially as the exam approaches, and prohibit mandatory overtime hours for CEPIs.
  • The implementation of support and preparation measuresfor the exam.

This matter will remain high on the FIQ and its affiliated unions’ radars to ensure that employers set up all of the conditions needed for CEPIs to succeed. The Federation intends to intervene with the higher bodies of the OIIQ, the Ministry of Health and Social Services and those responsible for applying the professional code and the laws governing the professional orders.

Healthcare institutions must enable the next nurse, licensed practical nurse, respiratory therapist and clinical perfusionist cohorts to learn in favourable conditions. This next cohort is absolutely crucial and the network needs all of its healthcare professionals.

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