Nursing students frustrated with unfavorable shifts attempt to buy better ones

Tuesday, January 21, 2020 - 7:51pm

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Design by Lauren Kuzee

 

After a recent change in the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing curriculum, Nursing students were offering to buy other students’ clinical shifts for as much $400 in order to switch their assigned times and locations throughout the Fall 2019 semester.

According to University spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen, the change began in Fall 2019 and allows students to select their own clinical shifts based on their registration date instead of being assigned them. 

Nursing students have the opportunity to work in a variety of clinical areas, including positions at the University Hospital, Veterans Affairs and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. These opportunities allow students to develop basic nursing skills related to delivering nursing care. 

Nursing sophomore Alissa Elanjian is currently completing her clinical shifts at the VA on Thursday nights. She explained to The Daily how particular times and locations were more favorable compared to others. 

“We have a nursing GroupMe, and for clinical times, people really, really like Michigan Medicine, and they really wanted Thursday morning,” Elanjian said. “A lot of the people are in sororities or frats, and their formals or semi-formals are on Thursday nights or Friday nights, and so I think that’s a huge reason why.”

Nursing sophomore Moriah Lewis said some students wanted to switch times because they had jobs to help pay for their tuition and needed to accommodate for those times. 

“Someone in my other clinical lab group was saying, ‘I work on Friday nights, and Friday nights are when I make most of my money,’ and she has clinicals Friday nights, so she was just saying how it wasn’t fair,” Lewis said. “She was upset that now she couldn’t work and make her money, but other people that had money could just switch out of it to party. And she was just frustrated and trying to figure out how to pay for the rest of her schooling.”

Many students were also upset if they had more class credits but still registered at a later time than students who had fewer credits, Elanjian explained.

“My adviser told me that we were using the entire University slot time generator so not the specific nursing school for credit,” Elanjian said. “People were upset because they had way more credits than others but ended up having to pick their classes last on the last day possible. There was a problem with that, but the advisers are actually working on switching that for next year.”

Jayne Hubscher, a Nursing senior and president of the U-M Student Nurses’ Association, spoke to The Daily about the schedules and the impact on the student culture at the University.

“I feel like it’s not really surprising to me because it does kind of fit in with the competitiveness of the Nursing School that I’ve experienced,” Hubscher said. “And there’s always been drama that goes on with different things, like academically, so this is just like another tip of the iceberg.” 

Hubscher further said some students prefer placements at the University Hospital rather than at the VA due to its location farther away from campus.

“No one wants to go the VA because you have to take the bus, and you have to get up way earlier,” Hubscher said. “They used to not let you give medication there, which really hinders your education. So, if someone got placed there, they would definitely want to pay for a position at Michigan Medicine.”

Broekhuizen told The Daily that in the past, students have requested more input in their clinical section assignments. In response, the Nursing School piloted a new registration process at the start of this school year. This process provided students with a system that allowed them a choice in their clinicals, Broekhuizen explained. 

“This was an isolated case and did not affect any students’ learning experience,” Broekhuizen said. “There is no evidence of additional instances.”

To address the situation, Bonnie Hagerty, associate dean for undergraduate affairs, sent an email on Dec. 5, 2019 to the sophomore and junior undergraduate nursing students. 

“This is unbecoming of what we strive for in nursing, that of integrity, compassion, and inclusivity,” Hagerty wrote. “No student may pressure another student to make a switch, including making offers of monetary compensation or other incentives.”

If continued, Hagerty wrote, students risked disciplinary action, including an honor code violation. 

Laurent Hokanson, a freshman nursing major at Grand Valley State University, is currently in the middle of applying to the U-M School of Nursing. She spoke to The Daily about the competitive nature of nursing schools in general and its impact on student culture.

“I cannot imagine selling my position,” Hokanson said. “It just seems unethical. It implies that some departments are better than others in health care, and I think that is unjust. We’re caring for people. It shouldn’t matter what form of care we’re giving. I think every department is beneficial. It can teach you amazing things.”

Reporter Kristina Zheng can be reached at krizheng@umich.edu.