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NZ: Massey University to Start Online Nursing Degree as Student Nurses Kick - News - Nurses Arena Forum

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NZ: Massey University to Start Online Nursing Degree as Student Nurses Kick by Idowu Olabode : January 06, 2018, 07:55:39 AM
-5 of 11 professors have been told to retire this year as university tries to save money through e-learning.
-Students say online education devalues Nursing profession and nursing shouldn't be taught online

Massey University nursing students are pleading for face-to-face teaching as the cost-cutting university drops top professors and shifts more of its undergraduate courses online.

Five out of 11 academic staff members from the Wellington School of Nursing have taken up offers of voluntary redundancy or early retirement, and are all set to leave by mid-2018.

Students found out via social media that planned changes will include more online tutorials, and outside contractors teaching them skills such as how to prod people with needles and catheters.

"What kinds of nurses are going to be created from an online degree? These are people's lives we're dealing with," third-year student Megan Hammond said.

"If I was out of college and looking at nursing again, I would not pick an online course. I want people."

She is one of a number of students who have written to Vice-Chancellor Jan Thomas and head of nursing Mark Jones, pleading for pertinent information to be taught face-to-face, not from behind a computer screen.

The letter says: "Would you want your loved one to be cared for by a nurse who had been expected to learn how to resuscitate, insert a catheter, hold someone's hand, administer medication, ask the difficult questions and build a therapeutic relationship solely by watching a video or reading a textbook?"

The university's planned changes are part of efforts to shave a reported $15.7 million off its expenses, and generate a 3 per cent surplus in 2018.

Voluntary redundancies or retirements were sought in October from more than 1000 science and health department staff on its Manawatū, Auckland and Wellington campuses.

Three other academic staff from the Wellington nursing school left last year ahead of the redundancies, leaving just three academic staff in Wellington from last year.

Massey spokesman James Gardiner said two new staff with strong research credentials had been hired, and another position was being advertised for any of the three main campuses.

The number of hours students spend learning in clinics is also under review.

Massey currently schedules a minimum of 1200 hours in clinic for every nursing student across their degrees – 100 hours more than the national requirement.

But the university must pay a fee for each day a student is in clinic, so a review would "assess whether there is any potential for efficiencies ... without affecting the quality of the student experience", Gardiner said.

Another third-year student, Donna Bosch, said reducing clinical hours would mean fewer chances to learn, perfect skills, and interact with health professionals, patients and their families.

"There is simply no other way to attain that kind of experience."

Hammond said her most valued and memorable experience over the past two years had been when lecturers had shared personal experiences.

"They've talked about how real and hard it can be ... That has stayed with me, not PowerPoint slides or online tutorials."

When asked if there was a long-term plan to move the entire nursing degree online, Gardiner said changes to the degree were "part of an ongoing process of review and revision of the programme".

It appeared unlikely course fees would drop as a result of the changes, because they were "not based on the nature of the course delivery", he said. It was possible the student services levy might change.

Remaining Massey staff have confirmed contractors will be brought in to teach some block courses.

Palmerston North-based professor Jenny Carryer​ chose to remain to support her PhD students, but had concerns about the changes.

"I don't think any of us think using contractors is a good idea, but the plus side is those people are always experienced clinicians."

It had been a difficult time, she added. "I think we could have done this differently."

Former associate nursing school head Jill Wilkinson said she chose to leave because she did not like the direction she saw the school headed.

"The values that matter in a place I work in are things like respect for people, staff, and students, and there's not a lot of that I'm seeing in the school."

Tertiary Education Union spokesman Michael Gilchrist said a drop in the research profile of the nursing school was certain, and he expected future students would vote with their feet.
"The model that seems to be being promoted of increasingly casual or fixed-term staff won't support high quality."

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