Quebec creates new program to entice nursing students to work in the field during pandemic

Registered Nurse Jocelyn Tews dons her PPE. Julia Wong/Global News

The Quebec government announced the creation of a scholarship program to encourage nursing students to join in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.

As cases of COVID-19 continue to climb in the province, putting strain on the health network, the government is hoping nursing students will put their studies and internships on hold for the winter semester to lend a helping hand in the field.

Health Minister Christian Dubé and Minister for Higher Education Danielle McCann made the announcement Monday in a press release.

The scholarships are intended for students enrolled in a Quebec university and working towards a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Full-time students could be awarded as much as $13,500, while those registered part-time would be eligible for $6,750.

Read more: Coronavirus: Quebec nurses’ union ‘strongly recommending’ members get COVID-19 vaccine

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Students will have to commit to working full-time in a public or private institution in the health and social services network between Jan. 17 and May 8, 2021 and hold a collegiate degree in nursing. They must also resume studies in the same program during the fall 2021 or winter 2022 semesters.

The government said up to 2,000 students could benefit from the new program.

The number of scholarships allocated to each university will be decided on a pro rata basis, according to the number of full-time students. Priority will be given to full-time students.

Dubé said in a written statement that the need for more nurses in the health-care sector has never been more glaring.

“Volunteers are welcome: their invaluable help over the coming months will help us better meet the needs of patients, whether they have COVID-19 or other health problems,” he said.

Read more: Coronavirus crisis an opportunity to overhaul Quebec’s devastated long-term care homes

McCann agreed now is the time to work together.

“The higher education network must join forces with the health and social services network to bring more nursing staff into the field, while doing whatever is necessary to facilitate the course of studies for these people when they return,” she said.

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The new program comes at a cost of $35 million, provided by the health ministry. Of that sum, $27 million will go towards financing the scholarships, while the balance will be used to prepare for the return of students and to help universities cover income losses resulting from unpaid tuition fees.

The government warns, however, that scholarships will only be handed out upon each student’s return to school.

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