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Guiding Principles: Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic on Nursing Education Programs, Faculty Members and Students

The CRNA is aware of and monitoring the impact on nursing education programs, faculty members and students. As the situation rapidly evolves, the CRNA is in continuous contact with all RN, NP and re-entry program faculty members to discuss contingency plans for their curriculum.

This unprecedented time requires agility, creativity and innovative options for faculty members and students. Both the CRNA and faculty members are committed and confident that together we will arrive at a plan in the best interest and safety for the public, students and faculty. 

Considerations for nursing education program contingency plans include: 

  • Student, patient and nursing faculty member safety is paramount. It is important to closely monitor and follow the Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health directions.
  • Students are informed of the post-secondary institution’s pandemic plans. 
  • Alternate and innovative learning strategies may be used to support clinical experiences and student learning to achieve the CRNA entry-level competencies.
  • Nursing education programs are responsible for documenting, tracking and reporting program modifications implemented during the pandemic to NEPAC.
  • Program modifications to address these extenuating circumstances are short term for the duration of the pandemic only and not precedent-setting. They are not to become permanent changes to the program. 
  • In the event the pandemic continues long term, and students cannot achieve the entry-level competencies required for program completion, post-secondary institutions may need to delay student progression in, or graduation from, the nursing education program. 
  • The expectation is that students have met the CRNA entry-level competencies for entry to practice as an RN or NP at the time of program completion. Faculty members evaluate students to ensure they have the knowledge, skills and judgement required to practise safely and ethically.
  • Post-secondary institutions will continue to submit their confirmation of program completion list to the CRNA. This list verifies that each named student has successfully completed all the requirements of the approved nursing education program. This requirement will not change.

COVID-19 Vaccination and Clinical Placements Guidance 

Currently, approved nursing education programs are receiving requests from unvaccinated nursing students for alternate clinical placements when the health care organizations have made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory. 

The CRNA is aware of the Alberta Health Services (AHS) Immunization of Workers for COVID-19 policy that requires compliance of all AHS, Alberta Precision Laboratories, Carewest, CapitalCare, and Covenant Health employees, members of the medical and midwifery staffs, students and instructors, volunteers, and applicable contracted service providers to be fully immunized against COVID-19 by Dec. 13, 2021. 

Alberta approved nursing education programs must provide experiences in clinical, laboratory, and simulation environments for students to achieve course objectives, program outcomes, and the CRNA entry-level competencies, and clinical placements are an integral part of nursing education.  Refer to the Guiding Principles: Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic on Nursing Education Programs, Faculty Members, and Students

Requests from unvaccinated nursing students for alternate clinical placements should be addressed by the nursing education program.  The CRNA does not regulate nursing students; all eligible nursing students are encouraged to get COVID-19 vaccination to participate in clinical placements.