Tuesday, April 10, 2012

GNIE: Oh happy day!

Just finished the last school day of my 1st semester of the GNIE course today. The final exams will be in a week's time.

This period, just before exams, has always been my favourite, even from primary (elementary) school. No homework, and thus having time to idle, play and enjoy some distraction (ok, and squeeze in some studies to assuage my guilt). This is because I am not particularly ambitious about getting A's. Although I occasionally aim to get them when I think they are well within reach, I won't stress myself over them; i.e. I don't believe in using 80% effort chasing the final 20% score. I would much rather spend the remaining 80% effort to enjoy life!
Obviously I'm not the royal flush straight-A's scholar type. You can tell from my undergraduate grades, ranging from D's (just pass those subjects that I don't care for) to A's (for those subjects that I'm interested in).
That said, the 1st semester of GNIE has been particularly enjoyable for me, thanks to a confluence of factors.
  1. Fun-loving and generally collaborative, rather than competitive, classmates. Yes, there is 1 super-kiasu person, but everyone kind-of avoids her now precisely because of her attitude. As for me, after the initial couple of tests when it was leaked that I was one of the top performers, people used me as a benchmark and kept asking me how many marks I got after each test result is released. Eventually I was annoyed and I complained to my classmates IJ about the "sense of competition building up to an unhealthy level". Somehow (I suspect IJ did something) people started to cool down on the marks comparison thereafter.

    I think my Singaporean readers already know from experience how kia-su and competitive the typical Singaporean classroom setting is, so I won't elaborate on it. For those who need a clue, Goggle for "Singapore education kiasu", OR read blog entries on the Singapore education system by Yawning Bread or LIFT OR read my comment in another of LIFT's blog entry (click here) on my experience of "teamwork" with some of these kia-su folks.

  2. Major difference between nursing culture in Canada vs Singapore regarding the consequence of making mistakes.

    Right from the start, my GNIE lecturers kept emphasizing that "You won't fail the course just because you made a mistake in clinical", "No one loses their RN license because of a single medication error", and "If an RN tells you that she has never made any medication error, [then] either she is lying or she has never worked before". Therefore, it is part of the CRNBC professional standards for the nurse involved to report his/her own mistake, so that the system can be examined to prevent similar mistakes in future. Ya, I can speak from my student clinical experience here that one can actually cite one's self-reporting action after making a mistake as meeting the CRNBC's standard of "Responsibility and Accountability"!

    That doesn't mean that Canadian nursing students don't fail clinical, of course. We were told that students generally fail clinical when they make the same mistake repeatedly despite being given advice, warning and guidance repeatedly.

    Now compare this to my Singapore nursing student experience. Right from the start, we were warned to be careful about making mistakes in clinical. Even as "matured learners" (that is what the "career conversion" students are sometimes called), we were given solemn warnings and examples of how so-and-so students were failed by their clinical instructors (CI) over one medication error or an incident that requires reporting. In fact, recently I had a friend who underwent that torture of facing possible failure. Fortunately for my friend, a nursing manager from the ward pleaded on his behalf and he passed.

    [Click here and here for my rants on the issue of how nursing mistakes are swept under the carpet in professional clinical settings in Singapore.]

    You know what the Singapore nursing clinical system breeds? It breeds kia-su & kia-si students who are NATO -- no action, talk only. It is easy to score points with a CI using "beautiful" detailed nursing care plans and "in-depth" research on the patient's diagnosis; and by avoiding ("siam") the actual nursing tasks, the chances of an implementation mistake is minimized. E.g. I heard from my fellow classmates that a classmate SD who won the distinction award for excellence in clinical is an archetype NATO student nurse. Since I didn't work closely with SD on clinical settings, I initially put it down to idle green-eyed gossip. Some months after graduating from nursing school, I heard another gossip about SD. Apparently, SD couldn't deal with the actual RN work at her originally assigned acute ward and had to be transferred to another department (a simpler, less busy, day-clinic role) to serve the remainder of her training bond.

    Btw, GNIE students are not graded on their clinical performance, just a "Pass" or "Fail". IMHO, given the huge variety of clinical settings that students are assigned, there really isn't an equitable ground for comparative grading.

  3. [Addendum on 12-Apr-2012] Major difference between Canada vs Singapore in handling workplace bullying.

    I will delve more into this in future with its own blog entry. Suffice to say for now that in Canada, workplace bullying is illegal -- not only will the offending person potentially lose his/her job, the organization that allows workplace bullying to happen repeatedly will be dealt with by the law. [Click here and here for B.C. policies.] In Singapore, workplace bullying is often swept under the carpet or, worse, rationalized as the "right" way!

  4. Enforced cross-cultural interaction. We were not allowed to form our own groups in my class. The lecturer assigned us to groups with the intention to mix students from different countries of origin. This brings variety to our group discussions and teaches us to practice respecting each other's differences.

  5. Enforced use of English. We were threatened by our lecturer right from the 1st lesson that we could be expelled from the course for speaking in our "native languages" while on campus ground. It forces everyone to keep practising their English and one can see significant improvement in oral English for those who were weak in the beginning. IMHO, an important part of assimilating into the Canadian society is being enforced here.

    According to my classmate IJ (who works part-time as an LPN, a.k.a. Assistant Nurse, in a hospital here), one can lose one's nursing license if one is caught repeatedly speaking in non-English to colleagues while at work. It is disrespectful to others who do not understand that spoken language, and thus breaks the CRNBC "Provision of Service in the Public Interest" professional standard by failing to "communicate, collaborate and consult with nurses and other members of the health care team about the client's care". I am not sure if this is true. If so, I would deem it positively because I have personally witnessed foreign-trained nurses in Singapore ganging up to bully a specific target (who is usually not of their nationality or ethnicity) by speaking in their own language at work.

  6. Fun revision classes that wrap up a semester of fun-filled lessons. At Nursing Theory class, the lecturer played a modified game of Jeopardy with competing teams of students. At Pharmacology class, the lecturer went through general study and exam strategies.

    In Singapore, the "revision class" is often a review session focused on giving students "tips" about what would likely appear as exam questions. To those unfamiliar with the Singapore tertiary education, I kid you not. You see, if too many students didn't pass because "there was too much to study" or if too many kia-su "must-get-A's" type of students complain that the exam was too tough, the lecturer has to write a justification for "why so many students failed" and/or "why no one got an A", "bell-curve" the results to shift the passing mark and grades, and perhaps set a re-test.

  7. Instructors treat us with respect as adult learners. In fact, some instructors told us that they specifically chose to teach GNIE students. E.g. An often cited reason was GNIE students bring into the classroom a vast range and amount of clinical experience, diversity of culture and backgrounds, which contribute to interesting discussions. E.g. One said that she liked the GNIE students because the motivation to succeed is already there, i.e. the "lack of motivation" is hardly ever an issue for the GNIE students. Yup, for many of my classmates, their quality of life in Canada depends heavily on them entering the nursing profession here successfully. Thus, the motivation is strong, alright.

    This is similar to my nursing student experience in Singapore as a "career conversion" nurse-to-be. My lecturers also felt that we "matured students" were a highly motivated group and treated us differently from the usual teenage Polytechnic nursing students. We were trusted to self-supervise for a lot of tasks and were given more leeway in various activities. I have my lecturers and the nursing school's support staff to thank for that.

  8. I've moved out of the Maslow's levels of survival needs, given my low-cost simple lifestyle. From kindergarten to my undergraduate days, my main goal was to get a degree and use it as my ticket out of the poverty cycle. [Note: I first graduated in the early 1990's when a degree was still a door-opener to well-paid jobs.] Thus, like it or not, there was some amount of self-directed pressure to ensure that I met the requirements to get onto the next rung, all the way to a Bachelors. Whereas now, I can enjoy a simple life here in Metro Vancouver even as a minimum wage worker. Thus, I don't feel as much pressure as some of my classmates to do well in this course. It is mostly personal satisfaction that drives me to complete the course and give a good shot while at it.

  9. Much of what I have learned in my Singapore basic nursing training is applicable in the Canadian context, with some minor differences. Thus, this semester's classes feel like one big revision for me. Some of my classmates are not so fortunate. E.g. Some did their basic nursing training more than a decade ago, and generally nursing training has changed greatly since. E.g. Some were surprised that they have to learn about "Professional Communication" in Nursing Theory. E.g. Some were disappointed that their experience in delivering babies as part of their basic nursing training -- a component that they viewed with pride -- is not valued here.
So I am happy and relaxed, enjoying the warmth of the spring sun and the freshness of spring blooms. Simple bliss! Ahhh, contentment once again!


  1. Good day!

    I'm also and IEN, got the SEC assessment results, referring me to 1 year re-entry. As I work from home separated mother of three kids I feel it will be quite hard for me to get to lessons everyday. Thus I wanted to ask you: did you attend lessons every day except the wekends, or there was a chance to come only for labs and clinicals? How many days there were?

    Thanks in advance.


    1. Hi Kristina,

      During my time, the SEC result stated 2 options for the 1 year re-entry program:-

      A. Either the full-time schooling option at Kwantlen Polytechnic University; or

      B. the mostly online option at Thomson Rivers University. That is, only labs and clinicals require attendance.

      While I have chosen the KPU option, I have met an IEN who had completed the TRU option. Given your concerns, you may wish to consider Thompson Rivers University for your re-entry program.

      Cheers, WD.

  2. I wrote couple of e-mails to TRU in 2010. They replied that many IENs want to be in their re-entry program, but their program is designed for those who have at least minimal experience in Canadian Health Care settings.

    Coming back to Kwantlen: did you have labs and practicum whole day and theory on the others? Let's say you had 3 days of theory and 2 days of clinical experience. What if somebody miss the theory days, but then pass the tests, what will happen? Is presence obligatory?
    Having 3 kids and being separated with no help is not a easy thing to do :( I'm trying to have optional way out.

    1. Hi Kristina,

      I'm not sure what TRU define as "minimal experience in Canadian Health Care settings". IIRC, the IEN that I've met did the LPN challenge with CLPNBC and obtained the LPN licence, so she worked as a LPN here in B.C. before she attended the TRU re-entry course.

      As for Kwantlen, yes attendance is obligatory. There were some absenteeism but usually with valid reasons, e.g. sick, family emergency, etc. Frankly, IMHO, the classroom participation is where you get a lot out of the Kwantlen course, e.g. building your professional network. Thus it seems rather wasteful of a good program if you sign-up with the intention to skip classes.

      I'm sorry I do not know much about the options available for single moms. A single-mom friend mentioned that there are lots of community resources for single moms. Perhaps you can see if you can get help to juggle family and your career development.

      Btw, how long have you landed in Canada? I'm just thinking ahead that if you can finish your re-entry training and get your RN licence before 5 years of landing, you can get support from the immigration settlement services agencies to help you break into the job market.

      Cheers, WD.

  3. WD, good day,

    Thanks for your prompt replies.

    We are here for 3 years now, if I'll be placed to re-entry program in September, I'll graduate in June-July or in September? That will be accurately 5 years after landing :)
    KPU site doesn't have the information about actual length of the program. I saw that you start in January, right? And graduated in November? Did you have breaks between semesters?
    As for single mom resources I'll try to apply for grant for families with dependents, the only thing I need to know for that is length of the course in weeks.

    And one more question: in one of your posts you were waiting for your bus at 4.45. Why it was so early? I thought the classroom lessons begin at 8.30?

    Thanks again for all the information you are sharing through your blog. It's a really big help for IENs.


    1. Hi Kristina,

      You're welcome.

      The Kwantlen program is 12-months long program, i.e. 52 weeks officially, (actually 11+ months if you squeeze your final preceptorship shifts close together), with yearly intake in September and sometimes in May. At the end of each semester (i.e. after 3.5 months) we get a 2-week break.

      Normally there isn't a January intake. My cohort that started in January is an exception, thanks to a special once-off $425,000 funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education.

      Please note that you have to apply around 12 months in advance for each GNIE intake. E.g. I originally applied for GNIE on 01-Jul-2011 for the Summer-2012 (i.e. May-2012) GNIE intake. In my case, I was lucky to be moved to the special Jan-2012 intake.

      Please read the following blog entry if you're keen on applying to the Kwantlen GNIE program. Getting a slot itself is a highly competitive process, so my suggestion is to seek advice from the Kwantlen Admissions Office and to indicate your strong interest in the program.

      As for financial resources, check out Student Aid BC which offers loans to cover course fee and family living expenses for eligible applicants.

      Since you've only been here for 3 years, you'd probably qualify for resources to help immigrants to settle into Canada. The following blog entry lists some resources that you may find useful.

      You're probably referring to the post "GNIE: Waiting for 1st bus at 4:45am". I was living in Richmond, traveling by bus to New Westminster for our car-pool to Maple Ridge for our clinical placement. In semesters 1 & 2, the twice weekly clinicals (Medical/Surgical) start at 7am and we do not have a choice on where we're posted to. Once you're in the system, you'll understand why it is so hard to get clinical placements and why one has to be thankful for clinical placements within Metro Vancouver.

      Hope the above answers your questions.

      Cheers, WD.

  4. Good day,

    I called to Kwantlen and they said that I still can have place even in May. Though I'd prefer September intake, as kids are at home in summer :)
    I went through all your posts :) I read about CPR (I'm scheduled for it on 7th of Jan), TB test (will have it done on Dec. 27th), I had an immunization here in L/D dept after having my third child and the list of immunizations is in my family doctor's office.
    I have referral letter from CRNBC and copy of IELTS.
    I guess that's it :)
    Yeah, do I need my transcripts from schools to be sent to Kwantlen?
    I got your explanation about clinical placements. Don't have any idea how will I manage to be in clinic and leave at 6am leaving kids at home :( No babysitter will come to us at 6am and there is no day care working at that time...I guess the only option is to call my Mom to help me :(
    To tell the truth, even after graduating I don't plan to work full-time as nurse, I'd prefer counseling as breast-feeding consultant (in July I'll have an exam in IBLCL), keeping RN job as part-time casual through different home health agencies as with children it is hard to do on full-time basis.

    Thanks again for your help.

  5. Good day, WD!

    Seems I'm ready for the application. TB test is done, CPR-C done, Criminal Check - done. The only thing that I don't have is is immunization record, because I didn't receive anything. What if somebody doesn't want to get them based on religious or other beliefs?

    1. Hi Kristina,

      If you're a patient, no problem. Clients have a choice on their healthcare decisions.

      But if you are a nurse-in-training and need to complete your clinical posting, you'll not be allow to get on the HSPnet without an accepted immunization record (i.e. HSPnet is the B.C. health authorities' system for assigning clinical posting), therefore no clinical posting for you. You know what that means.

      You can check out my blog post on how I got my immunizations done.

      Cheers, WD.

  6. WD, thanks again :)

    I had everything done before coming to Canada, here I got MMR in maternity clinic 3 years ago. I guess I need to take that sheet from my GP.
    You have an exact list of required immunizations in your blog entry, but I can't find anything similar on Kwantlen site. Do they tell you that list after receiving application or when?

    And there is one more question that left uncovered: do I need my school to send the official transcripts or reference letter from CRNBC is a base for Kwantlen and they don't need IELTS and school transcripts to be sent directly to them anymore?


    1. Hi Kristina,

      Yes, Kwantlen will snail-mail you a list of immunization to be done once you've confirmed that you are registering for the course. You need to provide proof of your immunizations, so IMHO it's better to gather your paper records as soon as possible.

      For your other questions, it is best that you ask Kwantlen admin. My memory may be faulty. :)

      Cheers, WD.

  7. Thanks :)
    I just came back from post-office, I sent an application with documents to Enrolling Services at Kwantlen.
    Wish me good luck! :)
    When do they usually respond?

    1. Hi Kristina,

      As mentioned in my other blog post "Tips to get into Kwantlen's GNIE":

      "FYI, I applied for GNIE on 01-Jul-2011, I received the confirmation for the Summer-2012 (i.e. May-2012) GNIE intake on 12-Jul-2011."

      Your experience may vary. Please check with the Kwantlen Admissions Office if you don't hear back from them in 2 weeks time.

      Cheers, WD.

  8. Wink, good day,

    My application was responded, they asked me to send proof of language only. That's not a problem.
    But I still have problem with time management and with my kids. I have been told from CRNBC that they accept the TRU-OL and one more online program in Saskatchewan.
    I'm trying to find some optional ways out and thought that may be there is a chance to take theory in TRU-OL and then transfer credit to KPU? Then I'll have only clinical part to take in KPU. How do you think, will they squeeze the clinicals in that case, so that I'll be able to finish them in 6 months?

    Don't you remember, where your classmate that got the program in TRU-OL had clinical placement? And why after TRU-OL he/she was your classmate in Kwantlen? :)

    Yeah, and one more question is about duration of clinical days - if you were starting at 7am, how long they were?

    Sorry for many-many questions, but you are the only real graduate from KPU GNIE program, that I know.


  9. Hi Kristina,

    > where your classmate that got the program in TRU-OL had clinical placement? And why after TRU-OL he/she was your classmate in Kwantlen?

    Perhaps there is a misunderstanding above which I need to clarify. I was from KPU GNIE. The foreign nurse (whom I met) who did the TRU-OL was a colleague at that time. At no point in time were the foreign nurse and myself classmates at KPU.

    As far as I know (and from what the above foreign nurse told me), the TRU program for internationally-educated nurses re-entry INCLUDES CLINICAL PLACEMENTS. There is no need to "transfer credit to KPU" just for clinical placements. Therefore, I would suggest that you contact TRU directly to find out about their re-entry course instead of relying on hearsay.

    The clinical work-hours depend on the university's programme design, the unit that you've been assigned to (some units work 8-hour shifts, others 12-hour shifts), and the clinical instructor's decision. Therefore, I cannot give you a clear-cut answer to your question.

    As for your time management problem, I recommend that you check out the resources available to those "New to BC". E.g. YWCA Single Mothers' Support Services.

    That said, I know of classmates who sent their children back to their country of origin for the duration of the programme and/or to tide them through the rough period of studying for CRNE and job search. Was it painful for them to be away from their children? You bet! But for my classmates, they decided to "bite the bullet" to accept short-term pain for long-term gains. Yes, the children are back with their mommies now and their mommies are happily earning professional pay.

    Kristina, my feel is that you can get better information for your planning and decision making if you approach the universities directly with your questions. E.g. As far as I know, KPU is very responsive to the students' feedback and update/re-design their programmes regularly -- in short, the GNIE program is likely to have been modified since my graduation.

    For KPU GNIE, you can direct your questions to the KPU Future Students' Office for help.

    For TRU-OL RRNP, you can direct your questions to the TRU-OL RRNP for help. There is even an email available for you to contact them directly on the Return to Registered Nurse Practice Certificate (RRNP) webpage.

    Good luck!

    Cheers, WD.