Nursing trainees thrown a lifeline

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 April, 2008, 12:00am

Hospital Authority offers way back for students shunned by supervising council

The Hospital Authority has offered to help 140 nursing students at the Institute of Technology who are part-way though courses the Nursing Council has refused to recognise.

The authority said yesterday it would offer bridging courses to help them become registered nurses or enrolled nurses.

Enrolled nurses have less training than registered nurses and must be supervised when doing certain duties.

But institute president Joy Shi Mei-chun said about half the first- and second-year students would not qualify for entry into the authority's registered nurse programme.

The 140 nursing students also said in a co-signed statement they were worried because switching to the authority's bridging course would mean they would have to repay government loans, either in a lump sum or by instalment.

The authority yesterday offered a bridging course to the students studying for the institute's associate degree in nursing who were caught short by the Nursing Council's decision not to recognise their course.

'This is a very special and one-off arrangement,' authority director (cluster services) Cheung Wai-lun said yesterday after meeting the students.

But first-year nursing student Chan Lai-pik said: 'Those who have government study loans will have to repay the loan immediately once they quit [the institute course].

'Not all students can afford that, so we hope to switch to the Hospital Authority's course after completing the associate nursing degree at the Institute of Technology.'

Ms Shi said about 80 per cent of its students had government study loans.

A Hospital Authority spokeswoman said students with financial difficulties could seek help from the government.

The authority has offered to provide a six-month, HK$14,000 revision programme for the institute's 22 third-year nursing students to bring them to a point where they can sit the authority's Higher Diploma in Nursing final examination.

First- and second-year nursing students can also switch to the authority's higher diploma courses, at a cost of HK$28,000 a year, if they meet entry requirements.

The authority runs a three-year Higher Diploma in Nursing at Queen Elizabeth Hospital to train registered nurses.

Applicants must score at least grade E in one subject in the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination and at least grade D in English, C in another subject and E in four other subjects, including biology or human biology and Chinese language or Chinese literature, in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination.

Ms Shi said about half of the institute's 118 first-year and second-year students had either never taken advanced-level examinations or passed any subjects. 'Under this arrangement, only some of our students can become registered nurses, while others can only become enrolled nurses,' she said.

The institute would not enrol new students until it was accredited.