The investigation was initiated after more than half of the nursing exam results failed | Rare Techy


Even as the province faces a nursing shortage, an investigation has begun into why more than half of those who took the Quebec nursing licensure exam earlier this year failed.

Commissioner for Admissions to the Professions Andre Garipi will review the exam results, his office said in a news release Monday evening.

Nursing students told CBC Montreal that the mandatory exam to obtain a nursing license in Quebec does not reflect what they learned in school.

In the nurses’ order, known by its French acronym OIIQ, 54.6 percent of students failed the licensing exam written at the end of September. The failure rate for first-time test takers was 48.6 percent – the highest rate in four years.

As of 2018, the pass rate for first-time test takers typically ranges from 71 to 96 percent.

Gariepi’s office said the investigation was prompted by media coverage and a recent flood of complaints. The commissioner overseeing admissions to professional orders (including nurses) in the province has received 27 complaints about the exam in recent days.

The probe will focus on “various concerns raised about the examination and the status of candidates”.

Meanwhile, the commissioner encouraged nursing candidates who failed the September exam to sign up to rewrite it in March. “The September session should review feedback provided on individual performance,” the commissioner wrote, “review guides and materials, and participate in informational activities to prepare for the exam.”

Joseph Oujiel, professor of nursing at CÉGEP du Vieux Montreal and CÉGEP André-Laurendeau, said he was surprised that so many of his students failed the exam.

He said the failure rate is unusual and comes at an alarming time as Quebec faces a nursing shortage.

“I think we need to look at the average results,” Ojil said, suggesting the order to make the passing grade 50 percent instead of the usual 55 percent.

He said students told him that “it doesn’t reflect the actual reality of what we teach them in school or during their studies, and it doesn’t reflect what they’ve seen in their clinical practice.”

Chantal Lemay, spokeswoman for Quebec’s order of nurses, said the exam has remained practically the same for years.

What has changed, she added, is the environment in which students learn.

“We believe the pandemic has something to do with how well the students were able to consolidate what they learned during their training,” LeMay said.

Zoom screengrab of a woman talking
Chantal Lemay of the Quebec Order of Nurses says the test is similar to what was used in years past. (Radio-Canada)

Lemay said the OIIQ is not going to lower its standards even though the province is facing a nursing shortage.

Anyone with information about the examination or the status of its participants may communicate confidentially with the Commissioner by email at commissaire@opq.gouv.qc.ca.


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