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Fanshawe College PSW students two weeks away from completing program unable to graduate

The Oxford Street entrance to Fanshawe College's T Building as seen July 19, 2017. (Matthew Trevithick/AM980).
The Oxford Street entrance to Fanshawe College's T Building as seen July 19, 2017. (Matthew Trevithick/AM980). Matthew Trevithick/980 CFPL

Amanda Rouse is frustrated and disappointed after learning she won’t be able to graduate from the Personal Support Worker (PSW) program at Fanshawe College on schedule as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on The Craig Needles Show on Global News Radio 980 CFPL on Thursday, Rouse said she and at least 20 other classmates had completed about a third of their community hours — practical work at retirement homes or with a home care service — when the pandemic forced an abrupt end to their studies.

READ MORE: London, Ont. post-secondary students reflect on a bittersweet graduation amid COVID-19

Despite having completed the rest of the program, which Rouse said also includes practical work through clinical placement at hospitals or long-term care facilities, Rouse says the most the college offered was a letter stating the program was complete “up to that point” and “allowing employers to hire us based on that letter.”

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“However, we were hoping to receive a letter stating that we have successfully completed the course, allowing them to hire us on a permanent basis as opposed to a conditional offer,” Rouse said.

“We’ve put in so many hours and hard work up to this point that we feel that (for those) two weeks they should just be able to honour those hours.”

In a statement to Global News, Fanshawe College noted it “cannot speak about individual students” but said that it is “required that students complete the prescribed course of study established by Fanshawe in accordance with Provincial Program Standards.”

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“One requirement for program completion is for students to undertake a 120-hour community placement in which students work at retirement homes or with a home care service.”

“We understand that some of our current students have been hired to support work in hospitals and long-term care homes in a non-PSW role,” the statement continued.

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“We’re pleased that our students are able to find work, however that work does not contribute to meeting the requirements of the PSW program.”

READ MORE: Shortage of PSWs in long-term care in London, Ont. ‘very serious’: OHC report

The Ministry of Colleges and Universities tells Global News that while PSW programs must meet provincial training standards, individual colleges are responsible for their academic and administrative policies.

“The ministry does not however, determine the total number of practical hours a PSW student must complete during their program.”

“As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve, there may be restrictions placed on institutions and providers (employers), which may impact the ability of colleges to provide students in programs with meeting requirements that are an integral part of their programs,” the ministry explained in an emailed statement.

“For placements and practicums, the ministry will work with institutions to ensure they have the proper plans in place so that students can be accommodated and supported.”

The ministry added that it is “actively working” with post-secondary institutions in the province to ensure they can “maintain program continuity for their students.”

Fanshawe College said once restrictions are lifted, they “will work with our community partners to ensure proper protocols are in place to ensure the safety of our students who need to complete their community placements.”

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